Rock My ReligioneBook - 2012
Dan Graham's Rock My Religion (1982--1984) is a video essaypopulated by punk and rock performers (Patti Smith, Jim Morrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and EddieCochran) and historical figures (including Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers). It represented a comingtogether of narrative voice-overs, singing and shouting voices, and jarring sounds and overlaidtexts that proposed a historical genealogy of rock music and an ambitious thesis about the originsof North America's popular culture. Because of its passionate embrace of underground music, itslow-fi aesthetics, interest in politics, and liberal approach to historiography, the video hasbecome a landmark work in the history of contemporary moving image and art; but it has remained,possibly for the same reasons, one of Graham's least written about works--underappreciated andpossibly misunderstood by the critics who otherwise celebrate him. This illustrated study ofGraham's groundbreaking work fills that critical gap. Kodwo Eshun examines Rock My Religionnot only in terms of contemporary art and Graham's wider body of work but also as part ofthe broader culture of the time. He explores the relationship between Graham and New York'sunderground music scene of the 1980s, connecting the artistic methods of the No Wavebands--especially their group dynamics and relationship to the audience--and Rock MyReligion's treatment of working class identity and culture.