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Luanda-Kinshasa

Producer | Video Installation

Details

Marking the first time the artist has filmed on location in New York, Luanda-Kinshasa is set in a reconstruction of the legendary Columbia 30th Street Studio, which was based in Midtown Manhattan and home to some of the most renowned musical recordings of the twentieth century. Operated by Columbia Records between 1949 and 1981 in an abandoned Armenian church on East 30th Street, the studio was popular with artists working across all genres. Miles Davis's Kind of Blue (1959), Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited (1965), and Pink Floyd's The Wall (1979) were amongst the seminal records made at "The Church," as were Glenn Gould's Bach: The Goldberg Variations (1955), Vladimir Horowitz's Complete Masterworks Recordings (1962–1973), and albums by Leonard Bernstein, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, and many others.

Featuring a band of professional musicians improvising together, Luanda-Kinshasa is the documentation of a fictitious recording at the famed studio.The decade is the 1970s and an array of stylistic and ethnic influences is apparent. Pianists, saxophonists, trumpeters, drummers, and guitarists play while a sound engineer works on the tunes and an entourage of girlfriends, journalists, and record label staff hangs around more or less listlessly. Context is provided by fashion styles, musical equipment, tobacco and drinks labels, while newspaper headlines offer a subtle reminder of the outside world.

Luanda-Kinshasa expands Douglas's interest in the African origins of the music scene in New York in the early 1970s. In his series of photographs from 2012, Disco Angola, he drew parallels between the burgeoning disco culture in the United States and the Angolan liberation struggles following the end of Portuguese rule. Foreign influences and an affinity with Afrobeat are widely discernible in the reconstructed studio, as is a broader curiosity in synthesizing sounds and genres. Similar to many of Douglas's previous films, which have involved arbitrary loops that at times take days to unfold, Luanda-Kinshasa combines and recombines edits to allow for musical variations. The emphasis is on the compositional process itself, rather than a finished composition.

Luanda-Kinshasa draws inspiration from Jean-Luc Godard's filmic portrait of the Rolling Stones recording their hit single "Sympathy for the Devil" (Sympathy for the Devil, 1968). Godard's film is known for interweaving shots of the band recording and re-recording passages for the song with seemingly unrelated clips showing Black Panther militants, ultimately using its struggle to arrive at a finished product as a metaphor for the political climate of the times. Douglas's experimental style similarly defies linear expectations of narrative, while his ready-made contextual framework furthers his own hybrid and unique genre of staged reportage.

Luanda-Kinshasa, 2013
Single-channel video projection, 6 hours 1 min (loop), color, sound

directed by Stan Douglas

w/ Jason Moran, Liberty Ellman, Jason Lindner, Antoine Roney, Kimberly Thompson (of Beyonce)

executive producers: David Zwirner, Stan Douglas

Selected Press

“The film is about poetics, as much as about the politics, of music. It’s about jazz as a pan-cultural transport, a kind of freedom train that goes on and on.” – New York Times

“Douglas’s swooping lens swirls music, images, and memory together like tea and madeleines.” – The Village Voice

“Parse it, probe it, watch it flower—or just sit back and groove.” – The New Yorker

Exhibitions
  • David Zwirner Gallery, NYC (Opening)
  • Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland
  • Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany
  • Les Champs Libres, Rennes, France
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
  • Parasophia, Kyoto, Japan
  • Pérez Art Museum (PAMM), Miami
  • Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
  • Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
  • Whitney Museum
  • WIELS, Brussels
Awards
  • International Association of Art Critics Award | Best Time Based Format - Nomination
  • International Association of Art Critics Award | Best Show in Commercial Space in New York - Nomination
  • #8 Art Show in the US in 2014 | Jason Farago - The Guardian
  • Artforum Critics Pick, 2014
Gallery
  • Luanda-Kinshasa