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Dan Graham: Rock My Religion by Kodwo Eshun
Published by Afterall Books, 2012 (112 pages; paperback)
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Dan Graham’s Rock My Religion (1982–1984) is a video essay populated by punk and rock performers (Patti Smith, Jim Morrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Eddie Cochran) and historical figures (including Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers). It represented a coming together of narrative voice-overs, singing and shouting voices, and jarring sounds and overlaid texts that proposed a historical genealogy of rock music and a thesis about the origins of North America’s popular culture.
The Wire contributor Kodwo Eshun examines Rock My Religion not only in terms of contemporary art and Graham’s wider body of work but also as part of the broader culture of the time. He explores the relationship between Graham and New York’s underground music scene of the 1980s, connecting the artistic methods of the No Wave bands--especially their group dynamics and relationship to the audience--and Rock My Religion’s treatment of working class identity and culture.
Kodwo Eshun lectures in Aural and Visual Culture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. In 2002 he cofounded, with Anjalika Sagar, The Otolith Group, a collective working across film and video, artists’ writing, and exhibition curation. He is the author of More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction.