Canadian photographer and video artist, born in British Columbia. At the University of Vancouver he was a fellow student of Jeff Wall, with whom he formed a rock band. His work frequently has a disconcerting effect, as in his extensive series of large-scale photographs of upside-down trees. The tree is chosen as a motif partly because it is such a standard diagram in scientific textbooks. It is also a totally familiar image which links earth and sky and so relates especially powerfully to the viewer's sense of verticality. Graham shows us the actual retinal image before it has been corrected by the brain. In his video work Vexation Island (1997) he explores the distinctions between video art, perpetually open-ended and condemned to perpetual repetition, and conventional film with its demands for narrative closure. A Robinson Crusoe-like figure lies asleep on an island and is awoken by a parrot. He shakes a tree to obtain a coconut, which falls on his head; he is knocked unconscious, so the cycle begins again.
http://www.whitechapel.org/content.php?page_id=461 Rodney Graham interview with Anthony Spira, Whitechapel Art Gallery website.