Vexation Island, 1997
Leaping Hermit, 2011
Rodney Graham (born 1949, Canada) pulls at the threads of cultural and intellectual history through photography, film, music, performance and painting. In this seminal, cinematic short film, Vexation Island
(9 mins, 12 secs) which Graham premiered at the Canadian Pavilion
of the 1997 Venice Biennale, the artist appears in full shipwrecked sailor mode, albeit pre-Pirates of the Caribbean, lying unconscious under a tree on a paradise island, with a bruise on his head. Played on a neverending loop, the protagonist wakes up every nine minutes to his cosmic joke, shaking the coconut tree and knocking himself out once again.
The fantasy role-playing theme continues in the Leaping Hermit triptych of light boxes, showcasing another of Graham’s many alter-egos. This time he’s dressed as a live-in hermit, like those paid to stay on grand estates in Georgian England, but he’s also blissfully unaware of his fate and soon-to-be-irrelevant place in history.