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Stan Douglas: The Secret Agent

The Secret Agent (2015) is one of Stan Douglas’s most elaborate video installations. Douglas is known for the rigorous aesthetic execution of his projects, which are informed by intensive research. His combined interest in history, theatre, photography and technology has resulted in an internationally celebrated body of work.

Event/Exhibition meta autogenerated block.


Remai Modern

The Secret Agent is a recent acquisition for Remai Modern’s permanent collection. It was shown for the first time in Canada as part of the museum’s inaugural exhibition: Field Guide.

Douglas’s work is an adaption of Joseph Conrad’s 1907 novel, The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale. While the book recounts an anarchist’s failed bomb plot in London, Douglas’s version is set in Portugal’s so-called “Hot Summer” of 1975.

During Portugal’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, the country was rocked by numerous terrorist acts by extreme right- and left-wing groups. Douglas’s work delves into the context of the modernization of political, economic and social structures, and the complexities of the promise of revolution.

Characteristic of Douglas’s multilayered and nonlinear video installations, scenes depict moments taking place both before and after a climactic event that is never explicitly shown. Douglas’s insightful adaptation acknowledges the slippage between historical record, lived experience and retrospection, foregrounding the importance of truth while problematizing any authoritative certainty.

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Stan Douglas, The Secret Agent, 2015. Remai Modern Collection. Purchased with the support of the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation, 2017. Photo: Blaine Campbell


Curatorial Team

Gregory Burke, Executive Director & CEO
Sandra Guimarães, Director of Programs & Chief Curator