Rodney Graham: A Little ThoughtSeptember 10 - December 23, 2005
"Rodney Graham: A Little Thought" is the first major survey of the Canadian artist's work to travel North America. Since the late 1970s, Graham has taken a conceptual approach to making art to explore modes of perception—in particular altered states of perception—and themes of location. Large-scale photographs of upside-down trees show the world from inside of a camera, where things naturally appear topsy-turvy. Another aspect on the trippy landscape is viewed through The Phonokinetoscope, a 2002 video installation, in which Graham takes a tab of acid and bicycles through a park in Berlin. Structured as an endlessly repetitive loop and set to moody rock music by the artist, who is also a performing musician, the work operates like a dimension, or zone, to be entered and absorbed.
Reverie and complexity are dual playing in Graham's art, as demonstrated by this survey. Installed throughout the entire ICA and focusing on the artist's film and video installations, it features what he calls his "trilogy" of genre pieces: the tragedy Vexation Island (the Robinson Crusoe-like video that represented Canada at the 1997 Venice Bienale); the western How I Became a Ramblin' Man; and the costume drama City Self/Country Self, in which Graham plays double versions of himself as country bumpkin and bourgeois dandy. Constructed on every level by the artist, who is the leading actor and director, composer and musician, these videos are accompanied by sculptural props, masks, wigs, costumes, and storyboards.
Also represented are the artist's early camera obscura, his outdoor light projections, large-format photographs, printed matter, archival and audio works. Using all these various mediums to pursue a brilliant array of ideas and individuals that have peaked his own creativity, Graham's points of reference range from the philosophical writings of Kirkegaard to the grunge rock of Kurt Cobain. These and many other tangents coalesce in a body of work that is intellectual, absurd, and entertaining on its elected subjects of artistic identity, authorship, representation and repetition.
Rodney Graham (b. 1949, Abbotsford, Canada; lives Vancouver) is associated with the "Vancouver School" of artists—including Ken Lum, Stan Douglas, Jeff Wall, and Ian Wallace, among others—who have developed distinctive practices based on photography. During the 1970s, he was also part of the city's punk new wave. Performing with UJ3RK5 (pronounced "you jerks") and, more recently with the band Volumizer, or alone as a singer-songwriter, Graham's discography and play-list has grown in tandem with his resume of international group and solo exhibitions. In conjunction with the opening of his show at ICA, the artist will play with the Philadelphia-based band Bardo Pond.
ICA is pleased to be the only east coast venue for "Rodney Graham: A Little Thought." The exhibition is jointly organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. The ICA is pleased to be the only east coast venue for the exhibition. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated 200-page book produced by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and distributed by Distributed Art Publishers, New York.
ICA is grateful for generous support from Altria Group, Inc., Toby D. Lewis and Patsy and Karl Rugart as well as funds awarded by the Government of Canada - Cultural Affairs Office. Additional support has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Dietrich Foundation Inc., the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA, and the University of Pennsylvania. (Information complete as of 7/22/05.)
Top: The Phonokinetoscope, 2002. 16mm film with vinyl disc and modified turntable;
projected on continuous loop Dimensions variable; edition of 4 and 2 artist's proofs
Produced by Galerie Philip Nelson, Paris, and 303 Gallery, New York. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York...
Above right: Flanders Trees (detail), 1989. Seven monochrome color photographs,
Installation views at ICA. Photos by Aaron Igler > click to enlarge