Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (production still). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (production still). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (production still). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (production still). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.

Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.

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Richard Grayson

Messiah

24 November – 19 December 2004

Copperfield Road

This is the first time that Richard Grayson has shown at Matt’s Gallery and is his first solo exhibition in London. Two separate video installations, Messiah and Intelligence, will be shown consecutively, one before Christmas and one after. Richard Grayson was a founder member of the Basement Group in Newcastle upon Tyne 1979-1984, the Director of the Experimental Art Foundation Adelaide from 1992- 1998, and was the Artistic Director of the 2002 Sydney Biennale: (The World Maybe) Fantastic. He is represented in Australia by the Yuill/Crowley Gallery Sydney.

In October 2003, Richard Grayson approached the Australian Country and Western Band The Midnight Amblers to collaborate on a project re-arranging and performing the libretto to Handel’s 1742 Oratorio ‘The Messiah’. The dual projection video work Messiah is the end result. The text, written and assembled by Charles Jennens, was created to support the idea that Jesus Christ was indeed the person anticipated by the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament, not an event that rendered such prophecy void. The Band has written tunes around these words that only fleetingly make reference to the original melodies – ‘The Hallelujah Chorus’ for instance – and which use instead the languages of country rock.

‘The Messiah’ holds a central place in British culture, being listened to and performed by many in choirs and events around the country. By taking the words out of the matrix of classical music, they are made strange and magical again, rather than merely a distant component of ‘high culture’. This serves to reanimate them as an expression of a supernatural belief system: one which is now shaping significant social and political policy in the United States through the Christian Right, as well as helping directly shape certain expressions of American foreign policy in the Middle East. 42% of Americans describe themselves as ‘born again’ and 82% believe in miracles. Political ideology rooted in Enlightenment ideals of rationality is being eroded and replaced by Theology. In Australia the Christian Family First party has just helped secure the return of the conservative party of John Howard. In Tony Blair Britain has one of the most overtly ‘Christian’ prime-ministers since Gladstone.

This exhibition was generously supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, Arts and Humanities Research Board, Arts Council England and Australia Council for the Arts.