Douglas Gordon and Hélène Grimaud Tenderly Flood the Park Avenue Armory

Water music fills the great hall.

Scottish-born, Berlin-based artist Douglas Gordon is well known for his riveting films and video installations, such as his 24 Hour Psycho (1993), in which he slowed down and transformed Alfred Hitchcock’s  109-minute shocker into a whole-day affair.

Shown in galleries all over the world, Gordon’s films have also appeared in a number of prestigious film festivals, including those at Cannes, Venice, and Toronto. In 1996 he won the Turner Prize.

Gordon’s latest work, tears become…streams become… is a major departure for the artist. Currently on view at New York’s Park Avenue Armory, the piece may be regarded as an installation work by day and a performance piece by night. There is no video to be found here, but Gordon nevertheless leaves the audience with a powerful image.

For the installation, Gordon filled the Armory’s vast drill hall with a shallow pool of water that slowly fills, drains, and refills. The pool’s pitch-black lining creates a mirror-like reflective surface when the pool is filled. Two Steinway grand pianos in the center of the pool seem to float upon the water. With subdued lighting, Gordon creates a meditative, even haunted, atmosphere in the cavernous space.

The performance aspect of the work is a collaboration with classically trained French pianist Hélène Grimaud. A renowned virtuoso, Grimaud has performed with many of the world’s foremost orchestras. She selected the music program for “tears become… streams become… ,” choosing water-themed works by Debussy, Ravel, Liszt, and others. In the show, Grimaud appears as a formidable yet ghostly presence in the dimly lit expanse of the watery hall.

Douglas Gordon tears become...streams become...

Douglas Gordon, tears become…streams become… (2014) at Park Avenue Armory.
Photo: James Ewing

In the midst of rehearsals at the Park Avenue Armory, Gordon and Grimaud met with artnet News to discuss this project and other works, and to offer some unique insights into Gordon’s life and career, his mindset, and his singular world view.

Full performances of “tears become… streams become… ,” featuring Hélène Grimaud, take place each evening at the Park Avenue Armory, through December 21. The installation will remain on view each day, except Christmas, through January 4, 2015.

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