Dance!!!!! continues Graham’s long-standing fascination with the myth of the American West, an idea he investigates through its prevalence in movies, music, and legends. Here, the artist recreates the familiar, hackneyed saloon scene from Hollywood Westerns in which a man—played by Graham himself—is forced to “dance” because bullets are being shot at his feet. Considered a “staged photograph,” Dance!!! reenacts and isolates a culturally repetitive “event.” In doing so, Graham is able to falsify personal experience thus questioning the “true” origin of every Western scene held in our collective cultural memory.
Conceptual artist Rodney Graham’s oeuvre is highly versatile and intellectual. By incorporating fictional narratives and alternative interpretations into an existing context, Graham creates visual puns that layer historical reference to examine social and philosophical systems. Not only is Graham the behind-the-scenes sculptor, photographer, filmmaker, inventor, scholar, writer and singer in his projects, he also literally appears in the finished works, impersonating various fictional characters.