This is the film, Rock My Religion, that was a component of the retrospective exhibition of Dan Graham’s work that, when I saw it some years ago in Paris, provided the impetus for my poem
Patti Smith Was Right

Patti Smith was right

these cold, known objects
are not very likeable –
aluminium frames
& curved glass with optical tricks –
but I am ‘at ease’
at this show,
there are some nice little-grin ideas –
like television
screening outside
on the suburban home’s front lawn,
& time-delay verité videos
to amuse the usually uncrackable
hardened gallery-goer

have I flipped ? into a strangely placid
political zone a lack of clutter
and environmental concern -
these things are so simple,
two hours here & I begin to enjoy
Dan Graham
more than Soutine, Braque, Delaunay,
Bourgeois, Basquiat, Sherrie Levine,
Agnes Martin - although
I can not deny my memory
of her beautiful mid-1960’s picture -
‘Milk River’ -
nor her small collection
of pick-up trucks - the green Chevie
glinting with polish – the very driveable
Dodge parked
outside her desert home.

I spend over an hour watching,
surrendering to
Dan Graham’s big “Rock/God” video
that makes a simple
anthropological connection
between US tribal & religious ritual -
group dancing, shaking, speaking in tongues-
and mosh pits and rock music -
so when Patti Smith sings
“Jesus died for somebody’s sins
but not mine”
I am converted.

Patti Smith was right,
twenty-five years ago,
to say that rock music,
meaning, then, for her, punk-rock,
would replace painting
& sculpture
as representative of untranscended
life itself.

You can find brief notes on Agnes Martin here

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