with The Midnight Amblers: David Messer David Duloy and Robert Scott


Two-channel video installation with sound and hay-bales. Duration: 71 Mins. 2004
Excerpts below:

Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (installation view)

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.

messiah video still
Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (video still)

Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (video still)

'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.

Richard Grayson, Messiah, 2004 (video still)

Messiah: Matt's Gallery, London, Nov 24- Dec 19 2004