This low-angle image taken from a film shows a man, in three-quarter back view, riding a bay horse. He is wearing a cowboy hat and has a guitar slung across his back. In the background, rocky hills rise along a river.

Rodney Graham

(b. Abbotsford, British Columbia, 1949)


How I Became a Ramblin’ Man


35 mm colour film transferred to DVD, loop projection, sound, 9 min

Purchased in 2001

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, A 01 10 I

© Rodney Graham

In How I Became a Ramblin’ Man, shot in widescreen format, Rodney Graham casts himself in the role of a cowboy roaming a pastoral British Columbia landscape on horseback. The opening minutes of the soundtrack evoke the surrounding nature: lapping water, clip-clopping horse hooves and leaves rustling in the wind. Then Graham dismounts to sing a song about a solitary man. At the end of the ballad, he gets back in the saddle and disappears into the tall grass, with his guitar on his back. In this film, the artist revisits the lonesome cowboy myth perpetuated in western movies and country music.

Rodney Graham, associated with Photoconceptualism, works in mediums ranging from photography, video and music to performanceinstallation and painting. Many of his works take the form of cyclical narratives peppered with cinematic, musical, philosophical and literary references. Steeped in humour, they blur the line between contemporary art and popular culture. How I Became a Ramblin’ Man, the second of a trilogy of films in which Graham plays the main character, is a synthesis of his engagement with movies and music.


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