A Dog Day Afternoon

The early morning exhibition opening – there really is nothing quite like it. Usually openings are a great start to your night: you put on your best clothes, head to your favorite galleries, drink a few free beers, then have a great time with your friends. Often on a Sunday morning I’d be recovering from the night before by drinking copious amount of water and treating myself to a huge English breakfast before even considering the thought of leaving my apartment. Last Sunday, however, I had to get my hungover-self out of bed, throw water on my face and brave the Berlin cold for a Douglas Gordon opening at Blain|Southern at eleven in the morning. But was it all worth it?


 An example of the unique, maternal crowd at the opening. Photo: Danilo Sierra


I’m a fan of Douglas Gordon, but honestly who isn’t? I’m such a big fan, you could say, that I would go to his opening the morning after a long night probably still reeking of the prior evening’s endeavors. When I was in school I fell in love with works like “24 Hour Psycho (1993) and was mesmerized by his quasi-biopic of soccer great Zidane. Last year he debuted a work dedicated to a trip that he made to Morocco to film some of the knife sharpeners in the area, and this was the first time it was going to be shown here in Berlin, so naturally I had to go to the opening.

A New Kind Of Church

The morning gallery goers were there in full affect, with white wine for those that were still trying to enjoy their weekend. When I was a kid if I was out at this time on Sunday that meant I was going to church, so it felt somewhat natural for me to be spending time with older art lovers who didn’t stay out until 3am the night before. Blain|Southern’s architecture even felt a little like a church – its tall, chalky white walls were glowing from the incoming sun that crept through the titanic crystalline windows. As I sipped on a cool glass of Riesling, I passed two screens placed on the ground and was led to a much darker and comfortable room. I soon slipped into the main screening area, which surprisingly relaxed my shaky, hungover brain.

 blain-southernGordan’s beautiful projected video work.  Photo: Danilo Sierra

Like his work on Zidane, what’s important in Gordon’s latest videos here is how he has edited the video’s audio with it’s visual. The sounds of the day’s work of the men sharpening knives are blended together into an almost rhythmic ambience. This is paired with a montage of the work actually getting done, framed by the rustic Moroccan landscape of desert and mosques. What is in truth a very dangerous, and aggressive activity, Gordon makes it to a meditative experience. For someone as seasoned as Gordon, work this good has become so formulaic it must be like flexing a muscle for him. But it’s important to remember, that like the Moroccan men sharpening their knives, it takes practice and repetition to make something this perfect. Now if I could only get rid of this headache.  

  • Blain|Southern – Douglas Gordan “Sharpening Fantasy” – February 7th – March 30th, 2013 [Works not for sale]
Article by James Shaeffer