27 Bell St
For his tenth exhibition with Lisson Gallery, Dan Graham draws on his long-standing history working with music and performance to present a new stage-set design, alongside over-sized models, video and a courtyard pavilion, exploring the relationship between audience and performer.
Based in New York, Graham is an icon of Conceptual art, emerging in the 1960s alongside artists such as Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. A hybrid artist, he has been at the forefront of many of the most significant artistic developments of the last half-century, including site-specific sculpture, video and film installation, conceptual and performance art, as well as social and cultural analysis through his extensive writings. Delving into the performative in the early 1970s – exploring shifts in individual and group consciousness, and the limits of public and private space – Graham’s practice evolved into the installations and pavilions for which he is famous internationally. Today, his work continues to evolve with the world around it, taking on a different reading in the age of social media, photography and obsessive self-documentation. A recent work such as Child’s Play (2015-2016), which was on display recently in Museum of Modern Art’s Sculpture Garden, is from a group of works that Graham describes as fun houses for children and photo ops for parents.
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The artist’s latest presentation of work focuses on the relationship between musical performance and audience. The space at 27 Bell Street is occupied by a curvilinear stage-set which visitors are able to walk around. Blurring the line between art and architecture, Graham’s pavilions – or ‘quasi-functional spaces’ as he describes them – are optical illusions, mirroring and distorting reality. Simultaneously evoking corporate architecture and playgrounds, these spaces are activated by the presence of the viewer who becomes both performer and spectator, creating a voyeuristic space for watching one-self and others. Playing in the stage is the recording of his 1983 installation/ performance work with composer Glenn Branca, presented at Graham’s retrospective exhibition ‘Pavilions’ at the Kunsthalle in Berne, Switzerland. Musical Performance and Stage-Set Utilizing Two-Way Mirror and Time-Delay involves both the performers and the audience members’ self-awareness of their perception process.
The film work, Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30, is presented downstairs in the gallery. The piece was originally presented as a live rock ‘n’ roll puppet show, written by Dan Graham. Set in the 1970s when hippies moved to the country, it was first conceived by Graham as a conduit for grandparents or older parents to share memories of the 1960s hippie era with their offspring. The piece was produced by Sandra Antelo-Suarez in collaboration with puppet master Phillip Huber, with set design by Laurent Bergen, video projections by Tony Oursler, music by Japanther and the theme tune composed by Rodney Graham.
Throughout the gallery space a new group of models is displayed, underlining Graham’s work within the urban and natural landscape, culminating also with the presence of a new pavilion in the courtyard and documentation of his work in varied locations.
Graham’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery will be activated through musical performances on the evening of 30 October, hosting special guests Thurston Moore and The Raincoats.
Alongside the exhibition, Graham’s London Rococo is on view in Regents Park as part of Frieze Sculpture 2018.
For fifty years, Dan Graham has traced the symbiosis between architectural environments and their inhabitants. With a practice that encompasses curating, writing, performance, installation, video, photography and architecture, his analytical bent first came to attention with Homes for America (1966–67), a sequence of photos of suburban development in New Jersey, USA, accompanied by a text charting the economics of land use and the obsolescence of architecture and craftsmanship. Graham’s critical engagement manifests most alluringly in the glass and mirrored pavilions, which he has designed since the late 1970s and which have been realised in sites all over the world. These instruments of reflection – visual and cognitive – highlight the voyeuristic elements of design in the built world; poised between sculpture and architecture, they glean a sparseness from 1960s Minimalism, redolent of Graham’s emergence in New York in the 1960s alongside Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd and Robert Smithson. Graham’s work is also concerned with landscape architecture, which he incorporates into pavilion designs.
Dan Graham was born in Urbana, Illinois, USA in 1942 and lives and works in New York, USA. He has had solo exhibitions at the Red Brick Museum, Beijing, China (2017); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia (2017); Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, USA (2016); MAMO, Marseille, France (2015); ETH Zurich, Switzerland (2015); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2014); Kunstmuseum Sankt Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland (2011); Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu, Japan (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA (2009); Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy (2006); Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2001); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK (1997); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1993); Kunsthalle Berne, Bern, Switzerland (1983); and the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (1981). He has participated in dOCUMENTA 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10, Kassel, Germany (1972, 1977, 1982, 1992, 1997) and shown work at the Venice Biennale, Italy (1976, 2003, 2005). Among numerous awards he received the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award, Zurich, Switzerland (1992), the French Vermeil Medal, Paris, France (2001) and was honoured by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, USA in 2010.Photographer Jack Hems © Dan Graham. Courtesy Lisson Gallery