“Nobody looked at him. He passed on unsuspected and deadly, like a pest in the street full of men,” Joseph Conrad wrote in The Secret Agent, a political novel. First published in 1907, the story is set in London in 1886 and recounts an anarchist’s failed plot to bomb the Greenwich Observatory. It is considered to be among the first literary portrayals of terrorism, anarchism, and espionage. For over a century, it’s been widely regarding, ranking as the 46 best book of the 20 century by the Modern Library. On the other side of the coin, it has been said that the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, kept a copy by his bed during his teenage years.
Undoubtedly a book of its caliber has seen many forms, including Alfred Hitchcock’s 1936 film, Sabotage. Now it’s artist Stan Douglas ‘s turn. He re-envisions Conrad’s classic in Stan Douglas: The Secret Agent, a film installation on view at David Zwirner, 519 West 19 Street, New York. The gallery will present a survey of Douglas’s photographic works spanning his career at 537 West 20th Street. Both shows are on view now through April 30, 2016.
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Artwork: Stan Douglas. Still from The Secret Agent, 2015. Six-channel video installation, eight audio channels, 53:35 min (loop) with six musical variations, color, sound. Overall dimensions vary with installation. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York.