Rodney Graham

This Canadian artist treats us to a taste of ‘slacker’ culture in his 20-minute video, Halcion Sleep, where the protagonist, having imbibed some Nembutal, brand-named Halcion, and having duly fallen into ‘the arms of Morpheus’ is promptly carried to a taxi by his mates and laid out across the back seat. His address is given to the driver and he is sent off, oblivious, on a journey across the city. The remaining 18 minutes of the video consists of watching him, limp and expressionless – as if dead – in deep narcosis, as he is rocked, swayed and jolted across the city. So we, like him, miss the sights and the events, the buzz and the action of the city, and, indeed, begin to feel drowsy ourselves as the journey progresses. So used to filmic narrative are we, with its cycles of build-up and release, that here, anticipation gives way to perplexity and finally to anomie as the scenario fails to evolve – we’ve been duped, Graham has taken us for a ride, literally. The curious thing is that this video lingers in the memory, for whatever reasons, good or bad.

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