Douglas was born on the lands of the Eora Nation, (Sydney) Australia. “The first air I ever breathed was the salt air of the ocean.” She now lives and works between Le Lenape land in New York City and Gadigal land in Sydney. Although primarily based in New York City, her homeland in Australia remains the generative source of much of her work.
Douglas has engaged in an extensive international career, and her works have been curated into international survey exhibitions and published widely in journals and art anthologies. Her practice embraces photography, sculpture, video and durational site-specific works. Her work has been featured in international exhibitions including Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (a 200-year survey exhibition curated by Geoffrey Batchen); Sites of Knowledge, Jane Lombard Gallery (curated by Re-Sited); Shadow Catchers, Art Gallery of New South Wales (curated by Isobel Parker Philip) and Recent Acquisitions for the Photography Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum (curated by Mark Haworth-Booth).
Working across 2D and 3D image/objects using alchemic and durational processes, contemporary issues of the sublime and cultural and environmental legacy are core issues in her work. Douglas’ current active durational multi-site-specific art works, Ice Boat, and Returning the Future, enact a poetic engagement with cultural histories, land and environmental responsibility—both on earth and in the skies.
The internationalised impact of Douglas’ work is evidenced in both reviews and her exhibition profile. For Zachary Zachs in Artforum, her work Ice Boat (Site)’s “reverberation resounds, suggesting that a topology of variance in wood might be as articulate as any string of Latin Letters.” Or, as Natasha Bullock put it in the Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook:
“Simone Douglas uses photography to encapsulate the intangible and reveal the space between memory and consciousness […] These are the spaces of absence and the indescribable areas where unrecalled memories lurk. In conceptualising these aspects Douglas’s images emulate peripheral vision, an intention at odds with the accepted verisimilitudes of photography.”
Douglas’ works have been exhibited internationally and are held in collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Her work has also been exhibited at various institutions and art spaces including The Jane Lombard Gallery (NYC), the Photographers Gallery (London), the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney); The National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), the Australian Centre for Photography (Sydney), Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum (Beijing), Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (New Plymouth, New Zealand), Dunedin Public Art Gallery (New Zealand), Athens Fine Art School (Delphi, Greece), Gallery MC (NYC), Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne) and at art fairs such as the European Month of the Photo (Paris), Pulse Miami Beach Contemporary Art Fair (Miami) and The Photography Show presented by AIPAD (NYC) and festivals including The Auckland Festival of Photography and the Pingyao Festival of Photography. Her work has been published in journals including Artforum, Blind Spot, Conveyor (USA), Creative Camera (UK), Art & Australia, Photofile, Qantas Spirit of Australia Inflight Magazine, and art anthologies.
For Professor Michael Erlhoff, Douglas’ photo-based work:
“…asks important questions as does all important art. Some of these are absolutely fundamental questions. For example: What is light (‘photo’)? And what are signs (‘graphs’)? Or: do you believe what you see? Or do you see what you believe? And why, how, when do you see, if you see? And even further: What, if it exists, is the relationship between watching, looking, seeing, viewing, envisioning, perceiving and on and on…Simone Douglas is an intelligent, serious and engaged artist, what you find in her work are not answers but improved and more expansive questions.”
Writing, teaching and curating also represent active extensions of her artistic practice. At Parsons School of Design, The New School in New York City, where she is a tenured Professor, she is actively connected to a vibrant and internationalised community of leading artists. Douglas has also taught at other universities, including Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney; College of Fine Arts UNSW, and the National Art School. Since 2014, Douglas has collaborated with Sean Lowry to produce international conferences (Anywhere and Elsewhere) and publications (Anywhere vi, ii, iii, iv). She also collaborates with The Ghosts of Nothing, including as a cinematographer of, and artist collaborator for, the forthcoming moving image artwork, Sounds of Unridden Waves.