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Two-Way Mirror Power: Selected Writings by Dan Graham on His Art

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MIT Press, 2000, 300pp. £11.95

I once attended a lecture on the subject of Dan Graham's work which was constantly interrupted by some nutter in the front row, writes Jes Fernie.I realised later that the nutter was Dan Graham. He intervened in the discussion like a man possessed and this comes across wonderfully in his writings.

Graham is constantly grappling with issues relating to his practice, demanding interaction with his audience, and endlessly analysing the physical, intellectual and social context in which his work is placed with a rare intensity.

Two-Way Mirror Power , the second volume of critical essays by Dan Graham, is a beautifully paced selection of interviews, magazine articles and descriptions of work from the '60s to the late '90s. Graham is well known for his pavilions, which explore the interplay between public and private space and the way that people relate to their bodies in this context. But the really interesting thing about this book is that it puts all those pavilions in the context of his earlier work.

In the '60s Graham attempted to create a new breed of art, stating that his 'magazine pieces' were not simply analyses of art works, but stood as art objects in their own right. As Jeff Wall points out in his introduction to the book, this idea did not catch on, but it highlights Graham's delight in pushing boundaries and questioning perceived ideas about what constitutes art.

The book is peppered with Graham's signature deadpan style and a good dose of his kooky humour.The small amount of 'pseuds' corner' art crap comes from some of the interviewers and co-panelists (Silviz Kolbowski: 'I'm curious. Would you say that you try to create a phantasmatic plenitude in your work? Visually?'), but this is easily eclipsed by Graham's serious intent and continual questioning of the discipline in which he works.

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