NEW YORK—Cameras traditionally document reality—photographing particular moments, recording visual facts. To make the eight photographs in “Disco Angola” at the David Zwirner Gallery, Stan Douglas used his camera like a painter or a sculptor, creating reality from whole cloth. His images juxtapose the disco era of 1970s New York with the 1974 coup d’etat in Angola. He was inspired to thread the two by an early disco tune with African roots.
Douglas’s 2012 photographs recreate the 1975 exodus of Portuguese colonists from Angola, a gold-paneled ballroom/club in New York (1975) and a leather sofa in the same club that serves as a coat check (1974). One photograph in particular stands out and demonstrates the illusive nature of photography and context. It depicts Angolan rebel fighters standing in a circle while two comrades perform Capoeira at the center. Considering the parallels the show draws with New York, if you don’t read the exhibit copy you might assume the rebels are engaged in some form of hip-hop dance, rather than a Brazilian martial art.
“Disco Angola” is on view from March 22 to April 28, 2012. View more photos here.
“Capoeira, 1974/2012 (digital C-print) | Photo by Arts Observer