Rodney Graham’s 20/20 Vision of Our Past

THE DAILY PIC: At 303 Gallery Graham gives us living history, with him in it.

THE DAILY PIC (#1795): When I first came across today’s image, from the latest solo by Rodney Graham at 303 Gallery in New York, I said to a friend, “Oh look, it’s a media-studies class from the 1970s.” That was before I checked out the diptych’s title: Media Studies, ’77.

As in all the other photos that Graham has done in this retrospective mode, his eye for period detail is impeccable. But what I especially like about them is that they never seem to be about historicism for its own sake: Because Graham himself poses in every one of them, there always seems to be an ironic edge. They are clearly about the past as seen from today.

In Media Studies, that’s abetted by half-erased blackboards that are decent stand-ins for Abstract Expressionist paintings, the last refuge for the modernist verities that the Postmodern study of media help tear apart. (Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York)

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