July 3, 2017 - Museum Frieder Burda - Rodney Graham: Lightboxes
July 3, 2017

Museum Frieder Burda

Rodney Graham, Newspaper Man, 2016. Light box, 182 x 136.2 x 18 cm. Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden. © Rodney Graham, 2017.

Rodney Graham
Lightboxes
July 8–November 26, 2017

Museum Frieder Burda
Lichtentaler Allee 8 b
76530 Baden-Baden
Germany
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +49 7221 398980
F +49 7221 3989830
office@museum-frieder-burda.de

www.museum-frieder-burda.de
Facebook

Rodney Graham
Lightboxes
July 8–November 26, 2017

Museum Frieder Burda
Lichtentaler Allee 8 b
76530 Baden-Baden
Germany
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +49 7221 398980
F +49 7221 3989830
office@museum-frieder-burda.de

www.museum-frieder-burda.de
Facebook

Hardly any other contemporary artist has devoted himself to searching for traces left behind by different ways of life in the 19th and 20th centuries as the Canadian Rodney Graham (*1949). Since the 1970s, he has been working on a rhizome-like, conceptual oeuvre that has never shied away from new jumps in time or genre. His work combines film, photography, installation, performance, painting, literature and music. Graham, who, along with artists such as Jeff Wall or Stan Douglas, belongs to the “Vancouver School," appropriates styles, trends and discourses from the era of romanticism through to post-modernity, commenting or expanding on them or rethinking them with an understated irony. His sources of inspiration range from greats such as Sigmund Freud, Richard Wagner or Edgar Allan Poe to pop icons like Kurt Cobain.

The Museum Frieder Burda is pleased to present, in close co-operation with the artist himself, an exhibition of his photo light boxes from 2000 to the present. The central focus is on the manifold ways in which Graham has staged himself. He always gives the impression of a melancholy time traveler, a modern-day Buster Keaton, negotiating the trials and tribulations of modern culture in various guises and in doing so, slipping into the role of producer, observer or mediator.

The exhibition begins on the ground floor of the museum with the monumental triptych Antiquarian Sleeping in his Shop from 2017. In it, Graham portrays a collector who has nodded off while reading in his shop, which is decorated with antiques and curios. Graham collected the props for the project himself in the antique and bric-a-brac stores of Vancouver. His work can be viewed as a multi-layered allegory for a retreat to eclectic styles and nostalgic inner worlds.

His Media Studies 77 (2016), which is being displayed on the mezzanine, seems like a parody of media research and academia in the post-factual world we live in today. In this case, Graham adopts the role of a dandy-like professor. If the medium is the message, as postulated by the Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan in 1964, it, along with its entire discourses, has been reduced to a simple surface. The screen is dark, the blackboards are blank; the only message in the entire room is the self-staging of the teacher. At the same time, Graham transforms this scene into a surface composition with abstract and monochrome elements, an allusion to the art of post-war modernity, abstract expressionism or the video art of the 1970s.

Upstairs in the museum are key works from the last decade—light boxes, many of which feature Graham’s best-known incarnations. They include, for example, the roles of the amateur painter, the camera salesman, the craftsman, the "Rambling Man” and the cowboy. All of Graham’s light boxes, including his still-life-like arrangements, teem with references. He constantly undermines the lines between high and mass culture and connects banal, everyday contexts with elaborate allusions to art history and intellectual history. Graham’s caricaturistic images simultaneously question the role of the artist and, like the Newspaper Man, the complex mechanisms of the distribution and reproduction of cultural goods.

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