Graham Dolphin


August 20 – September 25, 2010

Dolphin has recently started remaking the public shrines and tributes made by fans as memorials to dead rock stars. The objects and sites chosen as the site of veneration are often arbitrary - a rock near the place Gram Parson's body was burned, the back door to Freddie Mercury's garden flat. The symbolism of the objects the fans choose though is ripe for an artists interpretation. Gram Parson's rock in the desert recalls paintings of Saint Jerome's penitence. Mercury's door becomes a portal to the afterlife. Fans make pilgrimages to these sites seeking the stars aura in physical remnants left behind by, or strongly associated with them. As with saintly relics, or fragments of the true cross, they are an attempt to make tangible the intangible. Saints relics – jaw bones, fingers, handkerchiefs - are displayed in churches as objects of veneration and devotion, where worshippers leave notes of thanks and prayers to the saints. The fans shrines are direct descendants of these relics.
Dolphin's interest is not in making replicas or facsimiles. The fans shrines are living artifacts, constantly changing and being added to. Dolphin makes a version of them, he wants the sculptural object to become itself, not a cold copy. The show will also include Dolphin's pencil drawings of suicide notes left by the famous (Virginia Woolf, Hunter S. Thompson, Alexander McQueen, Eik Skaløe, Mark Linkous). Many of the suicide notes only exist as rumour or as notes on coroners reports. Dolphin improvises them based on the facts he finds, they don't make any claims at authenticity or aura.
As long as I have known him Dolphin's work has sought (and undermined) authenticity. Subcultural icons and fascinations moved into an investigation of the imagery and language used by the fashion world. What is glamour? What creates it and where does it exist? His investigation takes place in the gap between the (humble) object and it's (otherworldly) aura. Dolphin has always questioned the status of objects and cultural artifacts. The copy and it's relation to the original.
At art school his tape covers were covered with handmade collages, the inserts meticulously filled in with details of recording dates, musicians, record labels etc, in the same tiny script he uses now in his text drawings. His interest was not in owning the record sleeve or the original vinyl pressing but in what they held - the music. He had an iconoclastic lack of respect for the original. The tapes were held in the same esteem as the vinyl records. An early reference within his work came from the title of one of those records. Sonic Youth's Kill Yr. Idols (1983). These new works are the shrines and suicide notes of those idols, Dolphin's and others.
Dolphin work has been exhibited extensively including solo shows at Seventeen, London, the BALTIC, Gateshead and MIMA, Middlesborough. His work is included in the collections of MIMA, Wiesbaden Museum, Zabludowicz collection, David Roberts and Viktor & Rolf. In 2011 he will have a solo show at Växjö Konsthall, Sweden.