Protocinema presents Rodney Graham, the first solo exhibition of his seminal video and music in Turkey, at Alt Art Space. Four of Graham's works, three of which comprise his trilogy: Vexation Island, 1997; How I Became a Ramblin' Man, 1999; and City Self/Country Self, 2000, as well as A Reverie Interrupted by the Police, 2003, will be on view for Alt's inaugural season dedicated to examining issues of authorship in art.
Within Graham's work, the artist himself takes center stage in all four videos, "trying on" different historical characters and de-mystifying the identity of the artist as the locus of ‘genius' and a generator of ‘authenticity'. In what is known as Graham's "costume drama trilogy," Vexation Island, a single-channel video, shows Graham washed up on the beach of a deserted-looking island in colonial-era clothes. The sailor in this film is sleeping on the beach and interacts with nature, a coconut tree and a parrot, through two repeating cycles of consciousness and non-consciousness—in this case, the shifts in awareness are represented by sleep. The viewer in anticipation of a Gulliver's Travels-like adventure saga is thus confronted with an endless loop of alternate perspectives.
How I Became a Ramblin' Man visually and aurally references the "musical Western" genre without the supporting structure of a plot or a cast, besides Graham himself. Considered an homage to Bruce Nauman's 1988-work Green Horses, the video takes the image of the artist as a "lonesome cowboy," in a way that empowers the viewer with the sense that s/he can also take on the role of the free-roaming cowboy. In City Self/Country Self, Graham takes an Épinal print from a nineteenth-century children's book as a departure point, and re-interprets the tale of a country bumpkin visiting Paris for the first time. Graham's simultaneous performance of the roles of the peasant and what he calls a "citified dandy" and the tension between the two types subtly underline the dissonance between class and power structures within society.
The final film, A Reverie Interrupted by the Police, 2003, finds Graham in a vaudeville routine, dressed in full striped prisoner's outfit, handcuffed and escorted by a policeman onto stage. He plays the piano in what "sound[s] like Erik Satie updated by John Cage," all the time looking over his shoulder with concern. The artist samples both Buster Keaton—the slapstick style of his performance—and Samuel Beckett in his philosophical approach, who famously wrote "the end is in the beginning and yet you go on." Graham's masterful reign over the malleability of his image and use of popular icons and interpretations of histories, offer alternative modes of expressing and maintaining identities.
Rodney Graham was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada in 1949. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1971, and lives and works in Vancouver. Solo exhibitions include Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2004); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2002); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2001); and Kunsthalle Wien (1999). He has participated in group exhibitions such as the 13th, 14th and 17th Sydney Biennales (2002, 2006, 2010), the Whitney Biennial, New York (2006) and the Biennale d'Art contemporain de Lyon, France (2003). He represented Canada at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997) and among awards he has received are the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, Toronto (2004), the Kurt Schwitters-Preis, Niedersächsiche Sparkassenstiftung, Germany (2006) and the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Visual Arts, British Columbia (2011).
Alt Art Space presents visual arts, performance and public programs, collaborating across disciplines and cultures. Alt embraces and shares new forms of artistic expression that respond both to global concerns and changing conditions on the ground. Located at the center of bomontiada, a historic beer factory re-purposed as a public social space, Alt aims to allow multiple authors to invest in and shape its future dynamics.