Eastside Projects | Dan Graham
Models & Videos
Curated by Gavin Wade and Maurizio Bortolotti
26 February to 16 April 2011
“I think the idea is to create a new social space in the middle of the very anonymous gentrification message, and the public and upper middle class housing projects that follow gentrification.” Dan Graham interviewed by Maurizio Bortolotti, 5 November 2010
Dan Graham’s works both celebrate and question suburban and urban models within public and corporate spheres, and the relationship between architecture and its effects. Graham has been an influential figure in contemporary art since the 1960s; his practice determined the construction of space as constituted by the performance of the artwork.
Models and video works were selected by Graham following a public lecture for Eastside Projects in July 2009, and ‘Models and Videos’ is part of his ongoing dialogue with the city of Birmingham. Invited to develop a new public work for Birmingham City University’s new campus in Eastside, Graham references the old Curzon Street train station and its neoclassical columns in his model for a pavilion for the new City Park. His work as he describes it “is urbanistic, in that it involves the center of the city, the two-way mirror office building, and the edge of the city, which is often suburban, well worked, divided by hedges and greenery.”
Graham’s model works fall into two categories: sculpture pavilions as propaganda, and fantasies of suburban situations. His use of models is borrowed from architectural practice, and Graham works with a cinematic quality, presenting baroque micro-public spheres taking place in time. Moving around his full size pavilions, sky conditions change, reflections are altered, bodies are put in relation with other bodies and their perceptual processes. Eastside Projects is addressed as a model space for art through the models presented in the gallery space, and question its situation within a regeneration area, itself designed to shift the flow of publics and economics in the city. Does your contemplation of the situation fuck with the flow of circulation?
A sequence of six video works led by ‘Death by Chocolate’ (2005) and set within a large-scale shopping mall in Canada inhabit the model environments. The two video rooms—designed for Carey Young’s Memento Park exhibition—were altered for Graham’s works, and in this way bring into focus ecologies of display, whilst supporting Graham’s assertion of the “fact that my work is basically about suburban shopping malls and fun.”