Just over one year ago, we lost a wonderful artist and friend in Dan Graham. The artist will be honored in a memorial to be held at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, later this month, on what would have been his 81st birthday. Lisson Gallery, 303 Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery, 3A Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art and Printed Matter are honored to present works by Graham across their NYC gallery spaces to coincide with the memorial, paying tribute to a figure whose legacy extends beyond his art making and will continue to be felt by the many who encountered Graham while he was alive. Read more
Dan Graham’s work questioned the relationship between architecture and its psychological effects on the spectator, latterly through his mirrored and mazy glass and steel pavilions. His inquiries remain as poignant today as they did in the 1970s when Graham first explored issues such as ‘the performative’, exhibitionism, reflection, mirroring and the mundane. Lisson Gallery is pleased to present three seminal performances by Graham: Past / Future / Split Attention (1972), Performer / Audience / Mirror (1975), and Lax / Relax (1969-1995, filmed in 1995). Graham did not view footage of his performances as strictly documentation, but rather as extensions of the performances themselves.
In Past / Future / Split Attention, Graham focuses on the assumption of time in the perception of oneself and others. Performed at Lisson Gallery in London in March 1972, Graham placed two people in the same space, representing the present. The first person begins by predicting the future behavior of their counterpart, and the second recounts the past of the first from memory. Graham writes: “For one to see the other in terms of the present (attention), there is a mirror reflection or closed figure-eight feedback/feedahead loop of past/future. One person’s behavior reciprocally reflects/depends upon the other’s, so that each one's information is seen as a reflection of the effect that their own just-past behavior has had in reversed tense, as perceived from the other’s view of himself.”
Also performed at Lisson Gallery, Lax / Relax studies the appeal of a modified state of consciousness. Graham presents himself to the audience with a tape recorder and a microphone. A pre-recorded female voice softly announces “lax” and Graham responds with “relax”, generating an auditory sensation that mirrors the inhale-exhale practice used in yoga. Inspired by Steve Reich’s phasing technique, Graham creates a minimalist, trance-like rhythm.
The presentation concludes with Dan Graham’s seminal work of 1975, Performer Audience Mirror. Introducing audience participation for the first time in his practice, Graham situates himself between a large mirror and an assembled crowd. The audience views themselves as the subject of their gaze, a position usually reserved for artworks themselves. Filmed in his San Francisco studio, Graham first faces the audience and embarks on a stream-of-consciousness monologue describing both the audience and himself. He then turns to the mirror and describes the reflected gathering. Graham explained, “first, a person in the audience sees himself ‘objectively’ (‘subjectively’) perceived by himself, next he hears himself described ‘objectively’ (‘subjectively’) in terms of the performer's perception.”
A new essay by Specific Object President David Platzker accompanies the exhibition. Before founding Specific Object, Platzker was the Curator of Drawings and Prints at MoMA, New York from 2013-2018, and Executive Director of Printed Matter from 1998 to 2004. Platzker has curated presentations of John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Marcel Duchamp, Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Yoko Ono, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, and Claes Oldenburg, as well as There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33” in collaboration with Jon Hendricks at MoMA in 2013.