Modern & Contemporary Art

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Everything is marked by difference or duplication.

We could say that Graham’s demonstrator, this machine in which we see him demonstrate for himself the possibility/impossibility of this event, this little stunt whereby he attempts to give himself an experience, marks nothing other than a structure of reproduction. Thus, I recommend that, later on, you too go and see for yourselves. And what you will see – first and last – will be an image, the inscription of a scene which opens and closes – like a mirror – upon itself.

Outpost Art Gallery

In the first and last analysis, what you will have had to face up to, come face-to-face with there, in the depths of a mirror whose abyssal effects labour to return you – but not only you – to yourself, is the revelation that “the ghostly is not far away.” (1) In other words, in a situation “given” as live and direct – and you only have to listen to Graham himself when he says that the mirror “simply reflects (statically) present time,” or “the symmetry of mirrors tends to conceal or cancel the passage of time,” or “video is a present-time medium. . . . The space/time it presents, is continuous, unbroken and congruent to that of the real time which is the shared time of its perceivers and their individual and collective real environments” – one comes to be set upon, that is to say carried away, deported by a relation with a certain experience of nothingness, of the nonexistent. In a word: something spectral.

X, Y, Z, and U exhibition

Oddly enough, in his book titled Dan Graham’s Kammerspiel, Jeff Wall speaks of a spectre, or to be more precise, of a certain disembodied, theoretical being: the vampire. (2) Without commenting further on Wall’s text – which I support insofar as it raises the issue, within the context of a thinking of architecture, of the quasi-logic of the phantom and of the crypt – it will suffice to say that it calls, to this reader at least, for another “ghost story,” another spectral reading which would no longer be derived from or necessarily refer to the traditional reserves of Romantic literature; rather, the “law of the phantom” would be the result of one’s contact, or as they say, one’s hooking up with the modern technologies of reproduction. (3)

In short, I would have to say that Graham’s constructions, his large-scale models or demonstrators are indeed haunted. Looking at the cover illustration for Video-Architecture-Television – an image of Mirror-Window-Corner Piece (1976) – we are presented with nothing less than a disorienting play of mirror effects. Given this bewildering profusion of reflections, superimpositions, ghostings, one can begin to appreciate why, when it comes to analyzing Graham’s constructions, one might be convinced that the logic of identity, the order of presentation, re-presentation or reproduction, should be replaced by the “spectral experience,” by “the memory of the phantom,” of that which, like Wall’s vampire, “is neither alive or dead, but exists in an accursed state of irremediable tension and anxiety.”

Published by Delores Jackson, on April 30th, 2019 at 9:00 am. Filled under: UncategorizedNo Comments

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