Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives


Stan Douglas, 7 August 1934, 2021. Digital C-print mounted on Dibond aluminum © Stan Douglas. Courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.

Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives

February 19—May 22, 2022

In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art is pleased to present Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives.

For over thirty years, Stan Douglas has devoted his work to the investigation of the image; the technologies of their making, their aesthetic languages and their dynamics of power. Through photo, film and video installation, television, theatre, mobile applications and many other digital media technologies, he delves into the recreation of moments in history at a cultural, social and political tipping point, to reveal multiple and divergent narratives in meticulous detail. The exhibition at the PHI Foundation will present the Canadian premiere of Douglas’s most recent photo series Penn Station’s Half Century (2021) and Disco Angola (2012), a series of photos that will be presented in Québec for the first time.

Penn Station’s Half Century was commissioned by the Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund, on the occasion of the dedication of New York City’s new Moynihan Train Hall. Douglas worked with a researcher who rifled through thousands of newspapers and periodicals to select nine historic moments that took place in New York’s original Pennsylvania Station between 1914 and 1957, before it was demolished to make way for Madison Square Garden. Among these selected events is March 1, 1914, when a large number of vaudeville performers staged an impromptu show after being stranded at the station by a severe snowstorm. Another was August 7, 1934, when liberated Black labour organizer Angelo Herndon, who had been arrested for the possession of Communist literature arrived at the station to the greeting of thousands of well-wishers.

Made with a hybrid of CG imagery and staged photography, these scenes were re-created by Douglas over a four-day shoot in Vancouver, which involved over four hundred actors who were scanned and redressed in one of five hundred unique period costumes, before being posed digitally. Douglas arranged these nine vignettes into thematic panels, which are presented in the Foundation’s 465 Saint-Jean Street galleries.


Stan Douglas, Exodus, 1975, 2012. Digital C-print mounted on Dibond aluminum © Stan Douglas. Courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.

With the series Disco Angola, Douglas takes on the persona of a fictional photojournalist living in New York City in the 1970s, who is a regular in the emerging disco scene and travels back and forth to Angola to cover the civil war. The works in the series are dated from 1974 and 1975, which was a critical period for the global political economy, marked by an oil crisis, a global market crash and increasingly strained relations between the US and Soviet Union. It is out of this bleak historical context that disco evolved. This important genre inspired by funk and soul music became heavily embraced by New York City’s Black, Latinx and queer communities as a joyful expression of emancipation from oppression. Douglas’s alter ego would travel back and forth to Angola to chronicle the country’s struggle for liberation from Portuguese rule. Through intense research into archival photographs, period costumes and decor, Douglas crafted “snapshots” from each of these locations. The series consists of eight, large-scale panoramic photographs, four based in Angola and four in New York, which Douglas arranged into specific pairings that put forth a multitude of contrasts and comparisons.

In a time of ‘fake news’ and our own experiences with historical uncertainty, these two series are tethered by Douglas’s steadfast exploration of the many conceptual, formal, and technical rigours of the image, to assert that there is always more than one side to a story.

Stan Douglas will represent Canada at this year’s 59th Venice Biennale, taking place from April 23 to November 27, 2022.

The exhibition Revealing Narratives will travel to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax following its Montréal debut.


Stan Douglas, Two Friends, 1975, 2012. Digital C-print mounted on Dibond aluminum © Stan Douglas. Courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.

About Stan Douglas
Stan Douglas lives and works in Vancouver, where he was born, in 1960. He studied at Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver in the early 1980s. He has had major solo exhibitions in cultural institutions all over the world including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Haus der Kunst in Munich, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and the Serpentine Gallery in London. His work is in many important collections, including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, MoMA, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum and the Tate.

PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art
Established in 2007 by Phoebe Greenberg, the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, formerly known as DHC/ART, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art. Housed in two heritage buildings located in the heart of Old Montréal, the Foundation offers programming that has met with critical acclaim both at home and around the world. Each year, the PHI Foundation presents two to three major exhibitions, a series of public events, special collaborative projects and a forward- thinking education and public engagement program. International in scope yet responsive to the Montréal context, the Foundation’s programming is offered free of charge to reinforce its commitment to accessibility, while fostering discussion on how contemporary art is invested with the topics and ideas that reflect and touch our everyday lives.


PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art
451 Saint-Jean Street
Montréal, Quebec, H2Y 2R5

Opening hours:
Wednesday to Friday: 12 PM to 7 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 11 AM to 6 PM

Free Admission

Accessibility: Partially Accessible


Media inquiries:
Myriam Achard
(514) 844-7474 #5104

Social media: