Bawag Contemporary

Rodney Graham

30 Mar - 16 Jun 2007

© Rodney Graham
Lobbing Potatoes at a Gong 1969, 2006
Super 16 mm s/w Filmloop, Ton, 4.20 Min.
Edition: Film, 1 signierte + nummerierte Vodka Flasche in einer Vitrine, 1 großes und 1 kleines Gemälde und 1 Fotografie
Still: Foto: Scott Livingstone
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth Zürich London
Rodney Graham
Lobbing Potatoes at a Gong
30 March - 16 June 2007

Canadian artist and musician RODNEY GRAHAM (b. 1949) has created a varied body of work since the 1970s, making use of such diverse media as film, photography, installation, painting, prints, literature, and music. The heart of the exhibition is a 16-mm film loop titled Lobbing Potatoes at a Gong 1969 (2006). It documents a fictitious performance set in 1969 which clearly resembles a Fluxus event. The artist, played by Rodney Graham, is shown sitting in a chair in an alternative art space. The audience watches him trying to hit a gong with vegetables. Taking as his fashion icon the artist Dan Graham, Rodney Graham`s costume represents what he might have worn had he been a New York artist at the time: plaid shirt, jeans, and Red Wing boots. The potatoes that hit the gong were subsequently distilled to create a limited-edition vodka. Like in many films by Graham, this relatively simple action contrasts starkly with the efforts that went into the production for which the artist did a lot of research and hired a professional film crew.

The small-format pictures of the series from 2006 also presented in the exhibition reveal themselves as sophisticated deconstructions of icons of abstract painting. Contenting himself with a comparably limited repertoire of visual signs, Graham, with a twinkle in his eye, copies the aesthetics of abstraction, such as that of a cubism à la Picasso, and unfolds a both confusing and mysterious system of references. The mixture of serious imitation, ironic distance, and play with historical contexts confronts us with “exercises in a buy- and sell-modernity” or results in “revived visualizations of the modern” (Rodney Graham).

Rodney Graham was born in Vancouver in 1949. His work has been exhibited internationally for over twenty years and has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions, among them a retrospective that toured the US and Canada in 2004/5 (including, among other venues, MoCA Los Angeles, ICA Philadelphia, Vancouver Art Gallery) and shows at the Sprengel Museum in Hanover (2006), the Kunsthalle in Bergen, Norway (2006), the Musée d`art Contemporain de Montréal (2006), the Whitechapel Gallery London (2002), and at Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin (2001). The artist was included in “documenta IX” (1992), the Venice Biennial 1997, and the 2006 Whitney Biennial in New York. – Graham`s work can be seen in the collections of major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Christine Kintisch

Tags: Dan Graham, Rodney Graham, Pablo Picasso