Though it’s still a year and a half away, the 2021 Venice Biennale is beginning to take form. Last week, the Biennale announced that Cecilia Alemani would serve as artistic director for the main exhibition, and slowly but surely, countries have started revealing who will represent them at the Italian art festival. Wednesday brought news of yet another country’s pavilion.
Stan Douglas will represent Canada at the 2021 Venice Biennale, with the National Gallery of Canada in Ontario as the institution commissioning the pavilion and a curator to be announced at a later date.
Over the past couple decades, Douglas has risen to become one of today’s most closely watched video artists as well as a practitioner of different kinds of photography. His installations frequently deal in tropes and styles culled from Hollywood filmmaking, placing an emphasis on narratives about marginalized people. Douglas has become a mainstay at the Venice Biennale, with his work having appeared in the main exhibitions of four editions to date, including the 2019 one, where he debuted a video installation about female astronauts experiencing alienation. (That work, Döppelganger, is going on view January 16 at David Zwirner gallery in New York and later this month at Victoria Miro gallery in London.)
Outside his filmmaking practice, Douglas has also become known for his abstract photographs, which explore the concepts embedded in cameras and producing images with them, as well as his theater productions. In 2016, Douglas’s photography earned him the Hasselblad Award, one of the top prizes for artists working in the medium.
The jury that selected Douglas included John Zeppetelli, director and curator of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Reid Shier, director of the Polygon Gallery; Kitty Scott, deputy director and chief curator of the National Gallery of Canada; and Sasha Suda, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.
In a statement, the jury said, “Douglas is one of the country’s most internationally respected artists, with a practice recognized for its critical imagination, formal ingenuity and deep commitment to social enquiry. . . . The currency of Douglas’ practice is especially relevant in the context of the Biennale’s global dialogues, and the jury was unanimous in its enthusiasm for his selection.”