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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDouglas
Le Détroit-An Experience Rich In Halftones
Frank Wagner


The film installation, «Le Détroit», by Canadian artist Stan Douglas tells a short story about a woman who breaks into a deserted house, whose former inhabitants have left behind a most remarkable collection of domestic articles and junk. His story, however, turns out to be a compulsive act, its constant repetitions submerged as if imaging a world composed purely of shadows in murky halftone layers. If only, one sighs, it were possible to see more.

Obsessive repetition

It is night. Eleanore, as Stan Douglas named his black female protagonist, turns off the engine of her Chevrolet Caprice and gets out. On the hood she places a spotlight that lights up one window in the facade of a house. She has left on the car lights, and they too light up the inhospitable nocturnal scene. Eleanore slowly walks towards the obviously derelict house, which has gaping holes where windows should be, revealing interior walls that are partially demolished. Entering the house, she chances upon a footprint, which she scrutinizes and carefully rubs out. She walks past piles of bulky refuse and stacked


Colonial furniture, climbs through a hole in a wall, walks along a narrow corridor, crosses a room containing a sofa upon which lies a blanket. There is a wardrobe in that room too, with clean clothes hanging inside it. A liquid is dripping into a vessel provided for that purpose. She closes the wardrobe door. She passes through a second room that is furnished with a desk, matching chair and bureau and looks like an intact office. There she picks up from the floor a document, then puts it down on the desk. Having climbed a staircase, she starts rummaging about in a hole in the wall of one of the rooms in the upper story. Concealed inside the wall, as the viewer can see, is an object that Eleanore is futilely attempting to get hold of. The light changes. Eleanore looks up. Glancing out of the window, she notices that the spotlight she placed on her car has gone out. She returns to her rummaging in the hole in the wall and then, startled by another sound, goes to the window and looks down at the leaves on the ground. There is no wind to make them rustle. A slamming door is the third unsettling occurrence; when she had looked out the window beforehand, the leaves and the bushes

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