Forty One, 2007
Totenschädel mit 41 eingravierten Sternen
Courtesy Douglas Gordon und Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
Douglas Gordon’s work is dark, morbid and self-referential. His creative oeuvre unfolds as an exhibition of destructive transformations of the artist’s body. For several years, Gordon has been collecting skulls, into which he has the corresponding number of small five-pointed stars incised for each year of his life. The use of the star-shape is a reference to the famous photo that Man Ray took of Marcel Duchamp in 1919. It shows him from above, with a tonsure in the form of a five-pointed star. The Catholic Church regards the tonsure as a symbolic opening of the skull to communicate with the holy.
In Gordon’s work 40, a skull with the corresponding number of star-shaped openings is set on a glass shelf in an elegant high glass cabinet like in a jeweler’s shop. At the bottom and at the top of the cabinet two mirrors are placed looking at each other over the distance. Both mirrors hold the skull between them in a reflection of infinity. Here, the context of motifs – self-reflection in mirrors and water – is activated as an impossible image of Narcissist desire to merge with one’s own ego, but also as a visualisation of the impossible passage through the mirror to the other side.
Douglas Gordon (born 1966) lives in Glasgow, Berlin and New York.