Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cabinet and Foreign Affairs

I wanted to go to a book reading by Dan Graham, but got there too late. It was a very young crowd. The women were very neat and mostly had on spiked heels. The guys, on the other hand, looked scruffy, sort of like Graham at a younger age. They were all white. I didn't even see an Asian person there.
It was the first time I was in the book store called McNally-Jackson. It's on Prince Street. Their books were a really odd assortment. For example there was an issue of Cabinet (very trendy art journal but intelligent enough) on the same stand as Foreign Affairs.
I always remember making the Paper Tiger show, Archie Singham Reads Foreign Affairs. Archie was a great Brooklyn College professor who was a major advisor to many 3rd World countries. I remember him saying that in Foreign Affairs academics "earn their living by being obscure" and making what is actually a simple issue (of exploitation, colonialism, etc) so complicated that people don't understand.There was also a big display for Conde Nast Traveler with a cover straight out of colonial India. What century are we in anyway? There were no issues of NACLA, or the Indypendent, or any of the other more pointed left publications. I went there because I was curious about Graham, as I am not all that familiar with his work and I haven't seen his Whitney show yet. I did however recall getting a fax from him, or someone named Dan Graham, in early 1991 during the Gulf War, saying that he had seen the Gulf Crisis TV Project which we had sent to a few places in Europe. I thought it was Scotland, but could have been Ireland or London. Anyway I went to the fax machine one day and there was this scribbled message that said, "THANKS. I'M IN THE UK. SAW YOUR SHOW. MADE ME PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN. DAN GRAHAM." I always assumed it was THE Dan Graham even though I never had met him, I thought he must have seen the series at some gallery or event on the street. Lots of places showed it during those weeks. It was the only dissident series against the war. So for all these years I thought I had this secret admirer-- well not secret. I thought that Dan Graham loved Deep Dish/Paper Tiger-- our work.

But the other night at McNally-jackson when I asked him about it as he was leaving the bookstore he seemed quite annoyed with my question and said gruffly "I don't know what you are talking about. It wasn't me."

So I guess there is another American Dan Graham who was proud of our work.

I still hope to see his show at the Whitney before it closes.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like THE Dan Graham to me. Note that he had a major show at Lisson Gallery in London at the end of 1991.

8:20 AM  

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