Tate Modern Film

Douglas Gordon: I Had Nowhere to Go

Film still showing a close up of a man playing an accordion

Douglas Gordon I Had Nowhere to Go 2016, film still. Courtesy olddognewtricks; moneypenny filmproduktion

​A sound-based portrait of 93-year-old filmmaker and writer Jonas Mekas’s life in exile

Based on Jonas Mekas’s published diaries of the same title, Douglas Gordon’s latest feature takes a radical approach to adapting Mekas’s life story to the space of cinema, offering just ten minutes’ worth of images in the predominantly sound-based work. Sharing at once a very personal yet increasingly universal story of exile, Mekas tells of his experiences in a Nazi forced labour camp, his five years in a displaced persons camp and his first years living as a young Lithuanian immigrant in Brooklyn. His stories offer rich biographical context for the impetus to record seen across his work, from his seminal oeuvre of ‘diary films’ documenting both his daily life and the New York art scene to his role in founding Anthology Film Archives.   

Featuring a sound design by Frank Kruse (Cloud Atlas, Citizenfour), I Had Nowhere to Go is the first film edited in Dolby Atmos surround to be presented in the newly refurbished Starr Cinema. The screening continues Tate Film’s thread of presenting cinematic conversations between artists of different generations, which began with Akram Zaatari and Hashem el Madani in May, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Tania Bruguera in June and continues with Tyler Hubby and Tony Conrad mid-October. The powerful dialogue established between the two Tate Collection artists in this work effects both a unique challenge to the documentary form and registers a compelling first-hand account of the life of one of the greatest documenters of the human experience.

Douglas Gordon, I Had Nowhere to Go, Germany 2016, DCP, colour, sound, 97 min 

The screening is followed by a discussion with Douglas Gordon in person and Jonas Mekas via Skype.


Douglas Gordon (b. 1966, Scotland) is a Turner Prize winning artist-filmmaker who lives and works in Berlin and Glasgow. Through his work in video and film, installation, sculpture, photography and text, Gordon investigates human conditions such as memory, perception and the passage of time, as well as universal dualities such as life and death, good and evil, right and wrong. He has collaborated widely with other artists such as Philippe Parreno on the 2006 feature film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and with Jonas Mekas on I Had Nowhere to Go, as well as with musician/composer Rufus Wainwright and pianist Hélène Grimaud. Gordon currently teaches film at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. His works have screened in galleries and film festivals the world over and in 1997 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale

Tate Film is supported by LUMA Foundation

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

8 October 2016 at 20.00–22.30