Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dan Graham's Rock My Religion (Now at the Whitney)

Dan Graham, Rock My Religion [Excerpt], 1984.

In the first ten minutes of Rock My Religion, Dan Graham discusses folk music, Puritans, Shakers, Ann Lee, the industrial revolution, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, hardcore punk, Glenn Branca, Quakers, Rimbaud, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, opium, henna, eighteenth century American history, dancing in religious ceremonies, and Minor Threat. From there, it only gets better.

It is showing on a loop as part of Dan Graham: Beyond at the Whitney right now, and it's the best video I have ever seen in an art gallery. Graham dissects youth subculture with historical and sociological lenses, then packages the whole sui generis creation with grainy handheld footage and clumsy computer title cards. Then doesn't sound like the recipe for a hit, but it coheres perfectly. Almost every person who walked into the room showing the video stayed for the full hour.

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