Douglas Gordon

A Divided Self I and II

About this artwork

On two monitor screens two arms - one hairy and the other shaven - fight one another on a bed sheet. On one monitor the hairy arm defeats the shaven, while the reverse happens on the second monitor. Gradually the viewer becomes aware that the arms belong to the same person suggesting a battle between two halves of the self. The work recalls Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' (1886) and the split personality of the key protagonist. The work’s title comes from Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing's (1927-89) pivotal and controversial texts on mental illness 'The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness' (1960).

  • title:
    A Divided Self I and II
  • accession number:
    AR01179
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Video, 2 monitors, colour, 15 minutes
  • date created:
    1996
  • credit line:
    ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Presented by the artist 2012
  • copyright:
    © Studio lost but found / Douglas Gordon / VG-Bildkunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2019
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Douglas Gordon

Douglas Gordon

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