303 Gallery is pleased to present “Music and Dance,” our 6th exhibition of the work of Rodney Graham.
For this show, Graham approaches a full synthesis of his itinerant interests in art and music. The exhibition consists of a series of lightboxes, each based on a trope of music-making, art production, or archetypal symbols of the back-and-forth influences of art and life. In “Three Musicians (Members of the Early Music Group ‘Renaissance Fare’ Performing Matteo of Perugia’s ‘Le Greygnour Bien’ at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, Late September 1977),” Graham recreates a staging of a piece from 14th century avant garde, as performed by musicians of the mid-1970s. The concert Graham is ostensibly recreating is a recreation itself, a historical reconstruction that betrays the stylistic bias of the period it hopes to evoke. Graham implicates himself as part of the arc of history, as he dons the clothes of the present-day man acting as the ‘70s man acting as the 14th century man. The surfeit of stimuli which contribute to a picture of antiquity are taken to their logical extreme, with Graham subjected to all the implications of their romance and projection, abetted by his own whimsical tinkering.
For the show’s other lightbox works, Graham imagines himself as the out of town old-timer in a western saloon, subjected to the terrors of drunk hooligans (“Dance!!!!!”); a lighthouse attendant warming his feet on the door of a wood stove (“Lighthouse Keeper with Model Lighthouse”); and a card shark on both ends of the winning / losing specturm (“Good Hand Bad Hand”). These scenarios share significance as clichés from the real world, adopted by theater and music for their allegorical weight. In “Dance!!!!!,” for example, the play between humor and hard reality is emphasized, as the viewer is forced to question his own laughs at the cost of someone being victimized. Each scenario has its own set of emotional allusions, universal in their application, and each implies its own stereotypical soundtrack (barrehlouse piano, sea shanty, bar rock). By creating and starring in these non-specific, emblematic representations, Graham again finds himself caught between creating a myth and being inspired by it.
Through the Forest, a retrospective of Rodney Graham’s works from 1986-2009 is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona. It will travel this year to Kunstmuseum, Basel and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. Other recent solo exhibitions include the Jeu de Paume, Paris; Sprengal Museum, Hannoever (where he was the recipient of the Kurt Schwitters Prize), and the BAWAG Foundation in Vienna, Austria. Recent group exhibitions include “BLOCKBUSTER: Cinema for Exhibitions”, CIAC Foundation, Mexico City; "The Cinema Effect", The Hirshorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Liverpool Biennial. Graham lives and works in Vancouver.