The making of cinema

I Had Nowhere to Go

Douglas Gordon

2016Germany100 minColour and B&W

Telling the story of Mekas, the founder of Anthology Film Archives, in New York, means to reflect on the history of avant-garde cinema in which Mekas is a key figure, and introduce Gordon’s own aesthetic decisions to its im­peratives – the rejection of linear narrative, persistent sound/image correspondence, suppressing the darkness that lies between the frames. As such, the work reflects the historical position of Gordon’s own oeuvre. [...] In historical terms, the diaristic passages read in the film describe Mekas’s life as a teenager in occupied Lithua­nia during World War II. Focusing on the memory of the war as told by a bodiless voice enables Gordon’s work to raise the question regarding the (un)represen­tability of the catastrophe of the war, and furthermore, to participate in the cinematic discussion initiated by Claude Lanzmann’s 1985 film Shoah, which avoided using archival images of World War II in favor of spoken testimonies. [...] Following Gordon’s (and Philippe Parreno’s) Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006), I Had Nowhere to Go also continues the artist’s practice as an innovative, and to some extent iconoclastic, portraitist. Yet, while Zidane dismantled the persona by means of over-visibility, Gordon’s current film portrait does so by means of under-visibility, which not only obscures appea­rance on the screen but also questions the viewer’s sense of self and integrity, rendering the differences between history and phenomenology, selfhood and otherness, indiscernible. 
–Ory Dessau ( 

Douglas Gordon was born in 1966, Glasgow. Since the early 1990s, he combines video, installations, photographs, murals and performances in a body of work that draws from conceptual art, hollywood, scottish gothic litterature of the 19th century and rock culture. He received the Turner Prize in 1996. His filmic portrait of Jonas Mekas, I had nowhere to go: Portrait of a displaced person (2016), premiered at Documenta 14 in Athens

  • PRODUCTION : Douglas Gordon, Zeynep Yuecel, Sigrid Hoerner