In The Studio: Douglas Gordon, artist

'I've always loved fire. But it does get out of control at times...'

At one point during my conversation with Douglas Gordon he queries, half seriously, "I wonder what to do with the stuff I am digging up through my psychoanalysis. What do you do when you dig something up – do you put it back, or do you display it? Because if you display it, there would be a hole where it has been."

Walking into Gordon's spacious Berlin studio, I pass a half-burnt portrait of Andy Warhol lying next to some white candles. Despite having been here for five years, Gordon tells me that this will be his last interview in this studio, as he is moving to a house complete with studio. His windows look into his former space, previously a sound stage. "In the middle of winter I would smoke out of the window and hope to catch a ghost. That is one of the things that I find fascinating about Berlin, that there is a ghost around every corner."

In 1996 Gordon was the first to win the Turner Prize as a video artist, although to label him as such could be misleading, as he works across several other mediums, including text, photography and feature film. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art. His course – environmental studies – was not held in the famous Rennie Mackintosh building, but in a former girls' school. "Just as well," he says, as he once set his space on fire.

He has been obsessed with fire for all of his life: "We had a gas fire, but my cousins had a coal fire and I always loved the coal fire. I would sit and watch the fire when others would watch the telly."

When making his burnt portraits, he also almost set the Gagosian Gallery in New York alight. "It does get out of control at some times."

After college, Gordon began working in Glasgow on his video works, including 24 Hour Psycho, in which he slowed down Hitchcock's film to fill 24 hours. "I was working in bed, and would watch a movie again and again and again. I had pictures of John Wayne and Anthony Perkins around my bed, and I woke up in the middle of the night and saw them all looking at me. So I cut their eyes out. Hundreds of blind stars."

Marrying this with his love of fire, he held the blind stars over a candle. "And that became interesting."

I feel I know Gordon through his work and ask if that is because much of it includes himself. "Most artists would say that everything becomes a huge self-portrait. I don't know if that would be accurate.

"Half your time you are trying to hide things and half your time you are trying to make things explicit." In the end, it is all about "psychological archaeology".

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power