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Fragmented Images
Douglas Gordon Receives the Roswitha Haftmann Prize

Douglas Gordon
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Photo: Martin Hunter
© Douglas Gordon

Douglas Gordon is this year's recipient of the Roswitha Haftmann Prize, the highest-endowed European art award amounting to 150,000 Swiss francs. With his complex video installations, which circle around existential themes such as the polarity between good and evil, guilt and innocence, and life and death, Gordon has become one of the most prominent contemporary artists worldwide. He received the Turner Prize in 1996. At the Deutsche Guggenheim in 2005, Gordon curated the exhibition The VANITY of Allegory, a very personal project in which he combined his own creations with works by artists such as Man Ray and Jeff Koons and with films ranging from Hollywood productions to underground movies. The exhibits oscillate between self-portrayal and morbid play with the ephemerality of human existence.

Douglas Gordon's The VANITY of Allegory
Installation View
Photo: Mathias Schormann
© Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin

"Pleasurably dissected, he fragments or doubles images or turns them into their opposite. Doubt is his accomplice on the way to artistic success," remarked the jury, which includes Dr. Christoph Becker (Director Kunsthaus Zurich), Dr. Bernhard Mendes Bürgi (Director Kunstmuseum Basel), and Prof. Kasper König (Director Museum Ludwig, Cologne), explaining why they chose Gordon. "The aesthetic brilliance and emotional force of his video works are in no way inferior to his models – particularly Alfred Hitchcock's films." Hitchcock inspired Gordon to create one of his most famous works, 24 Hour Psycho. The film stretches the director's classic horror movie to a length of 24 hours. Every detail is visible, things never noticed before move to the center of attention. Particularly viewers who know the film well enter into a hypnotic state in which time seems to stand still.

Douglas Gordon, Play Dead, Real Time, 2003
Installation view Gagosian Gallery
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
© Douglas Gordon

Whether for Play Dead: Real Time Gordon films a trained elephant which lies down as if to die in the Gagosian Gallery in New York, or in B-Movie shows a fly that dies after twitching for a long time – a key theme in his works is the investigation of death. One of his most recent works, Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, which had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006, attests to Douglas' passion for soccer. For a period of 90 minutes, the film observes the French soccer star Zinedine Zidane during a match between Real Madrid against Villareal in the spring of 2005.

Douglas Gordon, Untitled, n. d.
Deutsche Bank Collction

Douglas Gordon is the ninth artist to receive the Roswitha Haftmann Prize. Every one to three years, the Zurich-based Roswitha Haftmann Foundation awards the prize to important contemporary artists. Among the previous prizewinners are the Canadian photographer Jeff Wall, whose show Exposure was recently on view at the Deutsche Guggenheim, as well as Maria Lassnig, Mona Hatoum, and Fischli & Weiss, who are represented with numerous works in the Deutsche Bank Collection.

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