Dan Graham: Beyond

Dan Graham: “My name is Dan Graham.”

Chrissie Iles: “And I’m Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator at the Whitney Museum.  Dan Graham moved to New York from New Jersey in the early 1960s and opened a gallery that brought him into contact with many of the emerging artists of the day, including Sol Le Witt, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Robert Smithson.  It was a short-lived project, Graham is a thinker rather than a business man, but it was a fantastic springboard.  After the gallery closed, Graham launched into one of the most diverse and influential careers in contemporary art, making conceptual art, films, videos, performances, installations, photography, and quasi-architectural, what he calls, ‘pavilions.’  Many of these pavilions are for outdoor spaces, but he also built some for interior spaces.  Dan Graham isn’t so interested in museums as repositories for precious objects, as in the Museum as a social space.  He designed Heart Pavilion in 1991, for the Carnegie International Museum at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.”

Graham: “I think the lobby is always important because that’s the romantic pickup place, so I put a heart there.  This is the entrance over here.  You can see this material, it’s called “one-way mirror.”  It’s used by corporations, and it reflects the light and is a mirror, but here it’s both transparent and reflective.  So people can see themselves seeing on both sides.”

Iles: “Graham uses complex geometric forms and a variety of reflective and semi-transparent surfaces to invite the public to question the space that we and the work are in; how we perceive each other and how we perceive ourselves.  Graham has invited this response throughout his career in works in many mediums, from performance to film to video.  In his first architectural installation, Public Space, Two Audiences, the viewers perform for each other.”

Graham: “So they are actually in a showcase situation and what’s on display is the people and their perceptual processes.  And they float in and out.  Here the glass is very thick. It’s insulated so you can’t hear people.  And you see an image of yourself as kind of a ghost, as in a showcase window.  Then you see yourself back here, so people see each other as a group, seeing themselves and being seen by other people.” 

Iles: “Graham was fascinated by television and early video, and he often used video feedback to create new relationships between the audience and the artwork.  The work Opposing Mirror and Video Monitors on Time Delay is just what its title says, but its vision effect is complex, sometimes even a little confusing.”

Graham: “This video camera is aimed at a mirror, and an image of the monitor is transported, six seconds delayed, onto this monitor…So people can see themselves on a six second time delay, as seen by people on the other side.  They can also see themselves in the mirror.  And of course with time delay, it’s kind of an extended-present time, very much like drug time.  You have replications of all these times- six seconds, twelve, eighteen, twenty-four seconds time delay…See it’s much more complex than you might think.  But I think people, particularly kids, can race back and forth, and it’s a real crowd-pleaser.