Performer/Audience/Mirror, currently showing at London’s Lisson Gallery, takes its cue from the ’77 Dan Graham performance of the same name — also shown here in video form — and brings together eighteen artists’ film work from the 60s to now.
Graham’s original performance took place at Amsterdam’s De Appel Arts Centre in front of a mirrored wall, the artist describing himself and the audience. For this show Lisson have plundered their own archives to bring together three distinct sections, each one addressing a part of Graham’s title. Films grouped under ‘Performer’, ‘Audience’ and ‘Mirror’ are shown on three separate film reels.
‘Performer’, naturally, draws on film’s long history with performance, used alongside works which have a highly important live element to them, yet creating something that in many ways stands alone as film also. It seems fitting to have Marina Abramovic in this section, her most well-known performances reaching a far wider audience via the medium of film and the subsequent, mammoth distribution platform of YouTube. Now all fans are required to do to experience some form of her work is get online. Elements of theatre and comedy come into play in this selection of films — also including recent works from Ryan Gander and Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg — stretching outside of our relationship with film in a strictly contemporary art setting. Djurberg and Berg’s work is a brand new clay animation which looks at our (often cliched) understanding of male and female sexuality.
‘Audience’ occurs within a pavilion built by Graham. Greek Meander Pavilion, Open Shoji Screen Version sits in the centre of the main space, offering an enclosed area for visitors to contemplate the influence of architecture and surrounding space on the viewing experience. Monitors are hung around the internal walls and there is a view — albeit slightly obscured — through the reflections and griddled screens that surround the pavilion. It is here that the film of Graham’s performance is shown, alongside the work of Art & Language, Ceal Floyer and more Ryan Gander.
The final section, ‘Mirror’, looks at the ways in which film can be a reflection of the current political and social climate. It is often considered as one of the most politicised mediums, and in this section the timeline of the films is absolutely relevant, works having a specific relationship with the time from which they came, though often resonating long after the fact. John Akomfrah, also showing at the gallery’s New York space right now, Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Cory Arcangel, Wael Shawky and Sean Snyder are all included here.
There is also an online schedule of films, the second part of which is to be announced by the gallery shortly.
‘Performer/Audience/Mirror’ is showing at Lisson Gallery until 3 September