Douglas Gordon

LIVIA BLOOM: What was it like growing up in Glasgow? DOUGLAS GORDON: I was born in Glasgow, but I grew up in Dumbarton, which is like the Riviera of Glasgow. (Laughs) It was a rough and tough kind of a place. But there was a fantastic library, and I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. So I didn’t really need stimulation from anything. Got all my stuff from the Bible. I think I drifted away when I was about 16. In the nicest possible way, actually. My mom is still a Jehovah’s Witness, and my dad is not. He’s an engineering pattern-maker, essentially a very high-end carpenter. Let’s say this: my dad’s a carpenter and my mom’s called Mary, so I grew up with some messianic issues. When I lived in Glasgow with them, we had a very, very small family home. Like any kid, when I couldn’t sleep, I used to go to bed with my mom and dad. That’s initially where my experience of cinema happened. BLOOM: Lying in bed with your parents as a child? GORDON: Yes. I probably did see films that weren’t meant for a 3-year-old. I have very vivid memories of lying in bed with mom and dad, watching The Searchers (1956), or gangster films. My experience with cinema was really in bed. Which I still think is nice. I’m amazed that at a place like this [the newly opened Tiff Bell Lightbox], they don’t have a bedroom. (Laughs) I don’t want to get too nostalgic about it, but in those days, things were just broadcast at certain hours. The choice was watch it, or don’t. It was quite different from the multiple choices we have now. My girlfriend takes the piss out of me all the time, “You don’t really watch anything made after 1960, do you?” Well, I try, but I always go back to the period of cinema I’m most attracted to. It’s probably something to do with this Roland Barthes idea that I remember reading in his book on photography [Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, 1980]. He says there’s a connection for people to a time just before they were born, when their mom and dad were just about getting it together, and then the nine months when we were gestating. It’s a very romantic idea, but I kind of subscribe to it. I love the films from the period right before my birth.“   Livia Bloom: Toronto: On Elephants, Violins and Tattoos: An Interview with Douglas Gordon, in: Filmmaker Magazine, 14. September 2010.

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