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"Rock My Religion" at ISSUE Project Room

Dan Graham, still image from "Rock My Religion"
Dan Graham, Rock My Religion, 1982-84, still image from video in color and black and white, 52:00. Via ubuweb.

Rock My Religion
7pm Thursday 1 May 2008
ISSUE Project Room - 232 3rd St, Brooklyn NY

This Thursday, ISSUE Project Room in downtown Brooklyn will present a screening of Dan Graham's 1984 video essay Rock My Religion. The work is a mélange of American historical narratives from 17th century religious sepratism of the transplanted Christian diaspora and the parallel and rapidly developing industrialized workforce, to the 20th century populist vanguardism of rock and roll music and its supporting cultural apparatus. The video was recently screened in town as part of the Orchard Gallery Presents program of the New York Underground Film Festival, the not-for-profit's swan song film program on the occasion of the cooperative exhibition site's final year on the Lower East Side. While it would be nothing if not imprudent to read these two recent exhibitions of the work as some sort of marker of renewed interest in Graham's video and its formal and thematic concerns, it remains interesting to imagine the possibilities of the desire for such a revisiting. In what is certainly to be a few more months of intense historical surveying forty years since '68, the video might suggest an alternative, if incomplete, answer to the generally modernist project against economic inequity. Religious fundamentalism, after all — as Dan Graham implicitly posits in the work, and as contemporary cultural theorists like Boris Groys have more explicitly suggested — is just another oppositional response to the global regime of neoliberal capitalism, and at that a particularly resistant one. Forty years in the wake of the simultaneous strategic, cultural, and social revolt against such a regime across Europe, whose stranglehold on daily life the world over has nothing if not strengthened with time, signals, perhaps, an incentive to revisit pre-Enlightenment strategies of resistance — strategies as potentially terrifying as the unbearable conditions they seek to allay.