8th March – John A. Douglas on film, landscapes, gender and body fluids

Last Thursday, Maren met up with cinephile and video artist John A. Douglas whose works reference familiar Australian landscapes, narratives and cinematic images.

Alien- Still from Strange Land Vol. I, Douglas, 2010

John A. Douglas talked about his obsession with The Shining (Kubrick, 1980) and how a love of cinema informs his video artworks. We talked about masculinity and the problems of gender inequality for the psyche of the Australian male with alcoholism, violence and suicide being some of the results thereof. Douglas also spoke about the heightened sense of anxiety felt in our relationship with the vast Australian landscape and how art and cinema express it visually.

'Starella' still from Strange Land Vol. I, featuring Sari T.M. Kivinen, John A. Douglas, 2010

His work Strange Land Vol. 1, now showing in Melbourne, tells tales of mining town Glen Davis through placing historical figures in arresting, almost alien, landscape shots. The work explores historical narrative through a ghost miner, a priest and others related to incidents in the town and around the mine site in the early 1950s. The work features artists Liam Benson, Sari T.M. Kivinen and John A. Douglas himself in various guises, with a soundtrack composed by Deborah Petrovitch which we heard a little of on air.

Strange Land no. 6, 'Priest' featuring Liam Benson, John A. Douglas, 2010

John spends ten hours a day on dialysis, a very time consuming and frustrating process which he underwent live as part of became a part of his performance work Body Fluids II, also accompanied by landscape cinematography including his figure wearing a gold full-body suit, in which he was blind to the outside world. With an emotional expression of physical suffering and frustrating medical procedures inspiring art much in the same way Kahlo’s work was intensely informed by her own suffering, combined with the Beuysian imagery of a body swathed in gold, Douglas uses this stunning visual to become a kind of beautiful cyborg demonstrating the relationship between man and machine.

Still from youtube documentation of 'Body Fluids II', John A. Douglas, 2011

Get this interview in full though iTunes by opening ‘Advanced’, ‘Subscribe to Podcast’ and pasting this URL into the dialogue box: http://www.cpod.org.au/feed.php?id=308

To view John A Douglas’s works, visit his youtube channel and stay tuned for upcoming shows by checking his Chalk Horse website.