For this exhibition Dan Graham has selected video and graphic works related to his performances from the 70s. In response to his proposal, Allen Ruppersberg shows a photo series from 1973, named To Tell The Truth
The exhibition presents Graham’s photographic, video and audio documentation of his seminal early performances such as Like
(1969), Lax / Relax
(1969-1995), Past Future Split Attention
(1972), Performer Audience Mirror
(1975) and Death By Chocolate
Those pieces reveal Dan Graham’s dedication to examine social codes, group behaviour and established modes of perception. For example, the performance Performer Audience Mirror
(1975) is a phenomenological inquiry into the audience/performer relationship and the notion of subjectivity/objectivity. Graham stands in front of a mirrored wall facing a seated audience; he describes the audience's movements and what they signify. He then turns and describes himself and the audience in the mirror.
Dan Graham writes:
Through the use of the mirror the audience is able to instantaneously perceive itself as a public mass (as a unity), offsetting its definition by the performer ('s discourse). The audience sees itself reflected by the mirror instantly while the performer's comments are slightly delayed. First, a person in the audience sees himself 'objectively' ('subjectively') perceived by himself, next he hears himself described 'objectively' ('subjectively') in terms of the performer's perception.
Death by Chocolate (1986-2005) draws on nearly twenty years' worth of footage shot in the bizarre yet familiar arena of the shopping mall. The resulting work provides a coldly beautiful view of mall culture: its architecture, its consumer public and its unique aesthetic world. This work also provides a corollary to Graham's own prodigious writings and projects on the public spaces of corporate capitalism.
Allen Ruppersberg’s work consistently engages with language, its slippage between mediums, and its situation amidst the familiarities of pop culture.
In 1973, Ruppersberg made many photographic works in which a series of images were set side-by-side in sequence, suggesting stories. These works often dramatize the differences between a reader's or writer's misrepresentation of events and the confusions that can occur between what we normally describe as reality and fiction.
In the photo series, To Tell the Truth
(1973), Ruppersberg plays himself as a blindfolded man wearing a sleeping mask (significantly) and sitting at a table. In each new image, a different object appears before him on the table, and below the image a verbal narrative progresses—but the viewer comes to recognize that each object is being described incorrectly, as if some deadly slippage between the imagery and the text were developing further in each frame. When a bottle of ketchup appears on the table, for instance, the caption reads, "A pitcher of water". A handgun appears along with the caption "A sawed-off shotgun". When the man lifts his blindfold and raises the handgun to his head, the caption reads "An Argument", and in the final frame, as the man kills himself, the caption reads, "A Murder".