Two Friends is part of the series Disco Angola, in which Douglas assumed the role of photojournalist chronicling both the civil war in Angola and the burgeoning underground disco scene of the early 1970s in New York. Using actors and reconstructed sets, the artist draws connections between anti-establishment music and the revolutionary impulse. Evolving out of funk and soul, disco was at its inception an underground phenomenon. Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango is credited for writing the first disco hit, the song “Soul Makossa” (1972), and the movement as a whole took much of its inspiration from the African continent. Adopting the rhetoric of reportage while carefully composing the scenes in the present, the artist explores the idea of historical reconstruction. conflated. Simon’s art acknowledges this and the ambiguity of observation that photographs invite.
Gallery label from XL: 19 New Acquisitions in Photography, May 10, 2013–January 6, 2014.