It all began with a pile of potatoes with Giuseppe Penone in 1977.   Giuseppe Penone ; Patate, 1977   “Worthless” materials that are doomed to decay, stacking them in piles removes them from consumption, the consumer goods market and also from the circulation of meaning. The pile confines the object to waste. Only its placement retains any meaning. Hence, when Rodney Graham strategically positions a similar pile of potatoes up against the door of his workshop, thereby blocking its access, we understand that the artist should not be disturbed: Potatoes Blocking my Studio Door, photography, 2006. Rodney Graham ; Patate Potatoes are deemed basic, even common, “down to earth” at the very least. This is confirmed when the artist, sprawled back on a low chair, grabs them from a pile within his reach as if they were projectiles, throwing them one by one against a huge Buddhist gong positioned a few metres away from him: Lobbing Potatoes at a Gong, video, 1969. Rodney Graham ; PatateSometimes he misses the target, and thus concentrates hard, then begins to shoot once again. When it is hit, the deafening vibration of the gong authoritatively sounds the call to spirituality. From this performance, pictures and vodka remain. In 2022, Richard T. Walker in turn installed a cymbal on the beach : Anywhere, Somewhere, video, 2022. Rodney Graham ; Patate It dances in the wind. The beauty of the landscape invites contemplation. From behind the camera, the artist throws heavy stones at the cymbal, and in doing so abruptly shatters the meditative calm of the beach. The booming sound snaps the viewer out of their reverie. But whilst it interrupts their inertia, at the same time it instantly immerses them back into their state, like a distracting noise that is immediately integrated into a dream; both the sound and the reflection of the cymbal join with the dynamic concert of the waves, offering up a disharmonious yet almost natural composition of veritable music.

Damien Guggenheim Translated by Jacqui Chappell