Predictable Incident in Unfamiliar Surroundings Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1995

Still: Courtesy the artist | © Bildrecht, Vienna, 2020
Installation view: What do you want me to say… I am already dead, Fundació Miró, Barcelona, Spain, 2006

Photo: Courtesy the artist | Fundació Miró
Photo: Michael Strasser, 2007 | © Bildrecht, Vienna, 2020
Installation view: Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph, Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria, 2008

© Bildrecht, Vienna, 2017 | Photo: Niki Lackner | Landesmuseum Joanneum
Still: Courtesy the artist | © Bildrecht, Vienna, 2020

Single-channel video installation (color, silent), 14 local beer crates
39 min 50 sec (video)
Overall dimensions variable

Text by A.L. Steiner
One could frame (as some have) Douglas Gordon’s work as clever appropriation, psychic disturbance, hypnotic encryption, hallucinogenic detritus and/or post-modernist psychoanalysis. But there’s still something titillating about the idea being everything. Douglas makes appropriated material un-watchable, his home-grown productions solipsistic, texts on the wall unreadable. Crypto-pagan code-crashing. I once mused to Doug that 24-Hour Psycho should be installed in airports and airplanes, as travelers would actually watch it with fervor. If the experimental could be recontextualized, we’d be back full-circle with the material’s content. That would put us somewhere post-nostalgic, which might rupture the discourse of art for art’s sake or Ubu might be a channel on satellite TV. But one cannot and should not ignore – as most critics have – the running elements of gaysploitation[1] present in Doug’s work: latent faggotry, homoeroticism, BDSM and transvestitism. 
A macho “party-pak,” Predictable Incident in Unfamiliar Surroundings, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 comes replete with cases of beer for your drinking buddies; these may facilitate the circle jerk that will ostensibly occur while watching Captain Kirk of Starship Enterprise score endless streams of alien pussy (perhaps after watching a Zidane game). Kirk goes where no man had gone before – straight into the mouths of alien babes and out the other end of gender performativity.[2] Doug directs us to watch Kirk (predictably) mouth a 40-minute decelerated succession of five select female Star Trek guests, from/on/near various (unfamiliar) planets and spacecraft. Kirk is The Captain – he does as he likes, how he likes, makes the best decisions and takes all the risks; we’re the voyeurs of his interplanetary penetrations and varied acts of bravery and smarts. In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler posits that sex, gender, and sexuality are proscribed, acquired cultural constructs possessing their own unpredictable possibilities:
Gender ought not to be construed as a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts follow; rather, gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts. The effect of gender is produced through the stylization of the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements, and styles of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self. [] The possibilities of gender transformation are to be found [] in the possibility of a failure to repeat, a de-formity, or a parodic repetition that exposes the phantasmatic effect of abiding identity as a politically tenuous construction. [3]
Doug convenes an interplanetary big-bang gangbang with alien inhabitants – the “others,” or anyone who is not a white, heterosexual, biological male (i.e., Kirk). As we know on our planet, vis-á-vis the patriarchal structure enforced by monotheistic religions, women are the others – the second sex.[4]
Kirk kisses the forms of female-foreigner-alien prototypes (what we earthlings know as women), who could potentially be changelings, animals, machines, shapeshifters, Amazons, monsters, female impersonators, feminists, children, dreams, witches, psychotics, empty vaginae dentatae or any other number of anxiety-provoking selections or combinations thereof. When the make out session begins, we don’t know which it is. Which is precisely where Doug begins and ends. As an endnote, not a single one of Kirk’s ladyfriends got a full-time, equal paying job in the Enterprise. Maybe in the next century.

[1] See Ian Svenonius, “Camp Exploitation,” in The Psychic Soviet (Chicago: Drag City, 2006), 187–196.
[2] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 177.
[3] Ibid, 179.
[4] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. H M Parshley (Penguin 1949).

*1966 in Glasgow, United Kingdom | Living and working in Berlin, Germany