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Rock my Religion: Screening and discussion with Dan Graham

Dan Graham Rock My Religion 1982-84

Dan Graham | Rock my Religion 1982-84 | video, 4:3, black and white and colour, sound, 55:27 min | Image courtesy: Electronic Arts Intermix

6.00–8.00pm | Thursday 29 April 2010 | Cinema A, GoMA
Free | No bookings required, however, seating is limited | Please arrive early to avoid disappointment (doors open at 5.30pm).

Influential New York-based artist Dan Graham presents a screening of his 55-minute video Rock my Religion (1982–1984), followed by a discussion.

Rock my Religion reflects on the theory of rock music, and was realised in close collaboration with Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon of avant-garde rock group Sonic Youth and artist Tony Oursler. The film traces the early development of the ‘mosh-pit’ in American music, making links with the ritualistic dances of the Shaker religion founded by Mother Ann Lee in the 1700s. 

Rock my Religion is a provocative thesis on the relationship between religion and rock music in contemporary culture. Graham formulates a history that begins with the Shakers, an early religious community who practiced self-denial and ecstatic trance dances. With the 'reeling and rocking' of religious revivals as his point of departure, Graham analyses the emergence of rock music as religion with the teenage consumer in the isolated suburban milieu of the 1950s, locating rock's sexual and ideological context in post-World War Two America. The music and philosophies of Patti Smith — who made explicit the trope that rock is religion — are his focus. This complex collage of text, film footage and performance forms a compelling theoretical essay on the ideological codes and historical contexts that inform the cultural phenomenon of rock'n'roll music.

Original Music: Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth. Sound: Ian Murray, Wharton Tiers. Narrators: Johanna Cypis, Dan Graham. Editors: Matt Danowski, Derek Graham, Ian Murray, Tony Oursler. Produced by Dan Graham and the Moderna Museet.

Dan Graham’s visit to Australia has been initiated by David Pestorius Projects and has been made possible with the assistance of The Australia Council for the Arts, Queensland University of Technology, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, OtherFilm, and the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art.