Jeremy Deller

Posted: January 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: interviews | Tags: , | No Comments »

Jeremy Deller has come a long way since his first projects, which mostly consisted of public art: T-shirts with various inscriptions or his own name, bumper stickers or posters: many ways to show his work in a quick and efficient fashion.
Deller’s significance as an artist stems from his possession of the following attributes:
1. a sharp and meticulous sense of observation
2. a tendency to shake things up slightly (meaning he is an agitator but not a provocative artist, which is far more subtle I think).
In 2004 he was awarded the Turner Prize for his film Memory Bucket. The Turner Prize, undoubtedly the most famous art prize in England, is an annual prize presented to a British artist under the age of 50.
Jeremy’s work is well known and respected by a large number of people – not only within the art world. Most of the time people try to define him: is he an historian? a sociologist? an anthropologist?
Deller’s work deals with varying subjects; thusly, he collaborates with people from many different backgrounds: for example, he worked with a traditional brass band from Manchester (Williams Fairey Brass Band) for Acid Brass. It is the first project with no material existence, as the brass band plays acid house tunes. Jeremy Deller tried to link two musical expressions of popular culture that have nothing in common at first glance, but both of whom are deeply rooted in the British post-industrial world.
I called him in order to find out what Jeremy’s latest plans looked like. When I reached him, he was at home, waiting for the delivery of a computer. We discussed things such as his role as a trustee at the huge Tate gallery, his first show (displayed at his parents home while they were away), and his very last project: a film about the life of the glam wrestler Adrian Street.

Hi Jeremy, how are you? What are you doing at the moment?
Jeremy Deller: Well I am doing this interview! More seriously, I am currently waiting for the delivery of a computer, that is the most urgent thing actually.
I was in Brasil recently, I showed a film at the Sao Paulo Biennal, along with an installation. It’s a film about the wrestler Adrian Street, titled So Many Ways To Hurt You. He was born in 1940 in South Wales, into a coal mining family, he became a wrestler at an early age and now he is living in Florida. The way people probably know him is the photograph of him posing with his father in front of the mine he used to work at. He went back to the mine in 1973, wearing his wrestler outfit, showing to his father and the people he used to work with what he has made with his life. How far he has come from that life in the mine, from this small town which he hated. He wanted to live in a city and make a name for himself. Coming back dressed in his wrestling outfit with his championship belt was a way of showing them how he changed, how he transformed himself.

The pro wrestler Adrian Street and his father, a coalminer, in 1973. By Dennis Hutchinson

This image seems to symbolize this connection between the Industrial Revolution and the birth of British rock music.
Exactly. It is the perfect illustration of how Britain was changing at the time or has changed. From an industrial making things towards other ways of making things, such as entertainment. And that photograph is an illustration of it.

How did you get interested in Adrian Street in the first place?
From the photograph. I did not really know who he was and then I did some research. He is an interesting character as you can imagine. Just from the photograph you realise that there is something going on. He is a self-made person in a number of ways. He basically invented himself through his  willpower and his personality. He made himself new. So it is quite an act of defiance really.

Maciek Pozoga (Vice France) pointed out that there is some parallel between Adrian Street and Arthur Cravan somehow. Cravan (1887-circa 1918) was a pugilist, a poet, a larger-than-life character, and an idol of the Dada and Surrealism movements. Both were inspirational.
I see. Cravan is the guy who managed to become France’s heavyweight champion but without fighting a single match, right? The world of wrestling is, in a way, almost part of the circus tradition. It attracts people who maybe do not fit in to traditional society, and have very active imagination like an artist .

Today Adrian Street is 70. He is still close to this hyper-camp character he created for himself?
He is physically in a very good shape. He has this incredible physique which he works all the time. He has never done drugs, such as steroids or hormones. Because if you do, in a short time you have a great effect, but on a long term it just destroys your body. He keeps himself very fit. He is not gay, that was just part of his act but he is a gay icon especially from his body building days. He realised though that he could make money from his persona so he pushed it and pushed it .

T-Rex frontman Marc Bolan said he got inspiration for his costumes and make-up after he saw Adrian Street on TV.
Yes Adrian was influential on the music business at that time, he was a glam rock wrestler.

Where can we see the film?
That is a very good question! (laughs). I have not even put it online yet. I am not sure where to put it actually. There will be an extract on my website soon, taken from the last part of the film. Adrian is reciting the lyrics to one of his songs (he had a music career for a time).

His flamboyant surface emerged in the early 1960s. So I was thinking that maybe there is some warholian dimension with Adrian Street: ‘anyone can become a star’.
Definitely. If you have enough guts and determination and are very single minded you can do what you want. Which is what most famous people are, they are very single minded. But it’s not like ‘anyone can become a star’, you have to work very hard. But he is quite warholian in a way and I am sure Warhol would have loved him in the 1960s and 1970s especially. The way Adrian dressed up, and also the cross-gender thing which interested, if not obsessed Warhol. The film shows someone who managed to reinvent themselves and created their own destiny. That is very Hollywood what he has done.

In your work you explore serious themes with a slice of humour.
A lot of the time, but that is just the kind of person I am I think. I think that humour is important in life and in art.

You are often depicted as a catalyst. In your work you make connections between things by leaving the situation open. Acid Brass being probably one of the best examples and The History of the World diagram shows that.
I think I am interested in making connections between things and also I tend to stand back a lot. I am not a control freak, and a little bit lazy. But sometimes you just want the people do their own thing. They can react as they wish. So the situations are open. And I am quite interested in what people would bring into an artwork… That is why I really like working outside a gallery because I always expect things to happen. That interests me.

Do you consider yourself as a conceptual artist?
Yes absolutely. Whatever that means. I would say I am. What do you think?

Well I usually do not label artists but since I asked the question. If conceptual art focuses on the artist’s intention, then yes, you are a conceptual artist. Not in the way Joseph Kosuth is a conceptual artist obviously.
Some of your work has a documentary approach: Memory Bucket or Our Hobby is Depeche Mode. Is it a good way to speak to people do you think?

Well it is a good way for me to work. I like those kinds of films, for me it is a very straightforward way to work. If you want to tell someone something, a film is a very understandable medium for this.
In Britain there is a way of working which is probably a little bit more obscure in terms of making films by artists. Mine are pretty conventional obviously, pretty straightforward.

Your first show Open Bedroom took place at your parents house in 1993. What did you display?
I displayed some paintings I’ve made – the first and last paintings I’ve made – about the life of Keith Moon, the drummer of The Who. And I also displayed a number of other things: some photographs, pieces of paper, graffitis, t-shirts, small things basically, that were cheap and easy to make. That was how I was working at the time. There wasn’t much money around anywhere and I was unemployed. And my parents were on holiday so I really did take over the house, it was an act of opportunism.

Did you already want to become an artist at the time?
At the time I was not really sure what I wanted to do. But I was really happy doing that kind of thing. I was trying to find my way. I was living at home. That was fine. But yes, at that point I knew I could not make an income in a traditional way. So I tried to make the best of my talent. A bit like Adrian in that respect.

What is a typical day of work for you?
I get up early, I check emails and sometimes I spend the day just staying in front of the computer waiting for emails to be sent to me!. And some days I am meeting people outside so it really depends. It could be half day at home in front of the computer and half day cycling across London, meeting people. Sounds a bit boring but it isn’t .

I heard you were appointed trustee at the Tate. What form does it take?
A lot of meetings. There are probably like twenty days of work a year, maybe more, twenty five. Committees, meetings about everything to do with governance and the running of the Tate. You get to learn a lot, working in an organisation like that, about managing the collection, budgeting, relationship with the Government, with artists, everything.

You are not the ‘studio’ type artist as you produce large scale projects. And at the same time, you are represented through three art dealers (Art: Concept, Gavin Brown’s enterprise and The Modern Institute). What kind of relationship do you have with the art market?
Well I do sell work, not tons but that is a very important part because if I had to live just through work in the museums I would starve to death. Solo shows at commercial art galleries are my weakest point in my opinion. So I do a little work through art dealers and that really helps. I sell all sorts of things: objects, prints, photographs. It is quite amazing how you can survive doing that. I do not sell that much, but enough to survive to be honest.

You recently protested along with fellow artist Mark Wallinger against arts cuts. Could you tell us more?
We had this new government and they want to cut funding for everything. So artists were asked to make some posters to protest at the proposed cuts to funding across the arts.
Basically you do not want to go down the road like in the US, where art is really just for the wealthy. That would be the worst thing. If art is funded by the wealthy or primarily funded by the wealthy, that would be just a terrible thing. So that was one reason. And especially because I did not support these people in the first place.

What about your upcoming projects?
It’s all a big secret.

This is the Vice art issue. Any advice for art students who dream to become artists some day?
Do not take art colleges too seriously. Only take advice from people you really trust . Do not look at art magazines too much, it just depresses you, it still does me. Be helpful to other artists because you may need their help.

Ed Hall

Posted: February 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: interviews | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

banner: a flag or other piece of cloth bearing a symbol, logo, slogan or other message.


May Day march, London, 2008. Courtesy of Ed Hall

In the past, banners have been mainly used for processions in a religious context. Nowadays as the banners usually hang on the walls of churches, religious processions tend to fade away. You can still find some revival in the French region of Brittany with the so-called pardon. This kind of pilgrimage has some celtic origin and happens on the occasion of main religious celebrations such as the Assumption on the 15th of August. On the same day the unconventional bikers pardon takes place in Porcaro. Established in 1979 by abbot Prévoteau -a biker himself- in order to celebrate Fatima and the bikers’ guild, this event is now gathering 20 000 people each year in the small village of Brittany. Although quite different from the current social parades, pardons are also events involving people sharing a mutual cause or celebration.

According to Dr Myna Trustram, organisations in the UK that have a marching tradition have made banners for centuries in order to identify themselves. This includes trade unions, friendly societies, temperance groups, co-operative societies, Orange orders, suffrage, women’s and peace organisations and political parties, but also non-political organisations like churches, chapels and Sunday schools. Mines, mills, factories or messages are part of the traditional iconography.


May Day march, London, 2008. Courtesy of Ed Hall

London, Thursday 21 January. It is almost 11:00 AM and I have an appointment with Ed Hall, the famous banner maker. He has been designed and created banners for more than twenty years for ‘organisations committed to social and political causes‘. Some of his work is now among the Folk Archive and part of the British Council collection. An important retrospective of his banners has been displayed on the occasion of From One Revolution To Another, the show curated by Jeremy Deller and collaborators at the Palais de Tokyo in 2008. Nearly 40 of them were hanging in the gallery.

A little early on the schedule, I watch with an amused eye a typical Trafalgar Square scene: tourists taking snapshots of themselves with the four lion statues guarding Nelson’s Column. As expected, Ed is on time.

The following conversation took place at Maison Bertaux, a famous tea house à la Française in the presence of two cups of tea, an apple crumble and a giant chocolate éclair.

Tell me about yourself
I started work as an Architect in 1968 and I became involved with trade union work when my Department was threatened with closure under Margaret Thatcher. I became a trade union official and began to make posters and banners. In the last three years I have been able to exhibit work in some beautiful venues, including the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
As an Architect I worked in the public sector, for Liverpool, Greenwich and Lambeth. My work was mainly housing, including at the old Tudor Dockyard in Woolwich and a large site of new houses in Brixton. I also designed a Health Centre and a small shopping mall.

What inspires you?
It started of with very basic trade union causes: people having proper conditions to work in, or political causes where people had been hurt by the police or forcedly imprisoned or have relatives who died in police custody. Although those causes have an impact on very few people, I think they are important causes. Anyone of us can get caught up in one of these incidents or trade union disputes.

How long does it take for you to make one banner?
The ones I am making at the moment which are combinations of sewing, appliqué work and painting are about a hundred hours for each banner. That does not mean to say working seven hours a day. I often start at seven and finish at eleven.


Procession, Deansgate’s Manchester, 5th July 2009.
Organised by Jeremy Deller for the Manchester International Festival
The Big Issue magazine is sold by homeless and vulnerably housed people to make them earn a legitimate income

What is a typical day of work?
I get up as early as I possibly can. The morning for me is the best moment. If I have to paint something or think hard about something, it is always in the morning. In the afternoon I try to do less demanding things like straightforward sewing, making the pose or sewing banners together but I think most people find that in the afternoon the motivation fails a little bit.

What are your projects?
Well I have been lucky in working on behalf of Jeremy Deller and other exhibition work. But my ordinary work is still producing trade union banners which I now have quite a backlog about two years! I am now trying to catch up with this backlog and complete the ones I have promised. And I have a long way behind.
The organisation called the British Council which has spent 75 years buying British artworks. The objective of the British Council is to spread British music, arts, culture in the wide world. They have a collection of paintings which they are showing at the Minsheng Art Gallery in Shanghai; I think as a fore runner to the forthcoming Expo 2010 taking place in Shanghai.
The British Council bought the Folk Archive which Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane have put together and which included some of my banners. And because it now belongs to the British Council, they are taking it to Shanghai. They have also asked me to provide other banners, about twenty of them which I believe will hang in an high space in the Minsheng Art Gallery.

How important is art in your life?
It is very important. I was an architect. I think the English are remarkably ignorant about design and the arts. I mean if you look at countries like France or Sweden where art seems to be part of their lives. In England it is completely separated, art is often ridiculed and people do not really value it very much. I think designing things and putting ideas into a visual form are very important.

Could you review your work in a critical way?
Some things I do were very successfully. There have been things I have done which have not worked very well. I admire painters like Diego Velázquez and Toulouse-Lautrec as they could draw hands, faces and hairstyle easily. I would just love to have that skill: drawing figures in an easy direct way. I would give anything to be able to have that skill!

What is your dream?
I have to say, I am in a very fortunate position. I love doing very prestigious things and that entrance banner on the Palais de Tokyo was a dream. How many people get the chance to have something they have made hanging in a big public gallery in Paris? If I can have any more of that kind of thing, that is my dream.


From One Revolution To Another, Palais de Tokyo, 26 Sept 2008 – 18 Jan 2009
Ana Lopez works with sex workers to demand trade union recognition and safety. This banner was used in Soho, Central London

Did you fulfill your childhood dreams?
The only way I can answer that is, if my life stops now I would be quite satisfied. I have no great unrealistic dreams. I am not gonna compose the Fifth Symphony or paint some day like Rembrandt. I think people must recognize their limitation and be realistic. I am not smug or self satisfied though. The last two or three years I have been extremely pleased about what was happening to me.

What do you see for yourself in ten years?
If people are working hard and producing things, well they like some recognition for  working hard and the things they have made, that people can enjoy and look at. If some more of the recognition took place, I would be extremely happy.

What epitaph on your grave?
There should be no sentimentality about people dying. When they are gone, they are gone, you know. Very few people in the world have never die because they left something so important that you could not say ‘Oscar Wilde is dead’ or ‘Toulouse-Lautrec is dead’ because they live on through their work. I think there must come a point when the last banner I made gets parade in public – and it might be hundred of years after I died! – but when the last banner is used in the street or whatever, then I will take this as the epitaph. (laughs)

Currently on view at the Minsheng Art Gallery, Shanghai: The Future Demands Your Participation
28 January – 21 March 2010
British Council

Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane, Folk Archive: Contemporary Popular Art from the UK, Book Works, 2005, 3rd edition, 2008


Hazel Edwards, Follow the Banner: An Illustrated Catalogue of the Northumberland Miners’ Banners, Carcanet Press, 1997
John Gorman, Banner Bright: an Illustrated History of Trade Union Banners, Penguin Books Ltd, 1986

Pump House: People’s History Museum, Manchester
The People’s Story Museum, Edinburgh

Jeremy Deller (version française)

Posted: March 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

« C’est ce que j’essaie de faire ressortir dans mon travail : le plaisir que j’ai à faire ce que je fais. » (interview pour Tate online, Turner Prize, 2004)

Né en 1966.
Basé à Londres.
En 1992, il obtient un Master en Histoire de l’Art  à l’Université du Sussex.
Il était auparavant au Courtauld Institute of Art à Londres, d’où il sort diplômé en 1988, spécialisé en architecture et en Baroque.
Alors qu’il est encore étudiant, il commence à intervenir dans la spère publique en placardant des posters d’expositions qu’il aurait souhaité visiter.
En 1986, il rencontre Andy Warhol lors d’un vernissage de ses autoportraits à Londres. Ce dernier l’invite à venir séjourner deux semaines à la Factory.
En 1993, alors que ses parents se sont absentés pour deux semaines, il décide d’organiser une exposition dans sa propre chambre. Open Bedroom se constituait d’une série de douze peintures de Keith Moon (premier batteur du groupe The Who, mort d’une overdose de médicaments à l’âge de 32 ans).
Il réalise des t-shirts portant des inscriptions telles que MY DRUG SHAME ou MY BOOZE HELL (Robbie Williams a d’ailleurs porté ce modèle lors d’une émission pour enfants, montrant à cette occasion un certain degré d’auto dérision, “booze” étant le terme familier pour désigner l’alcool).
Il est récompensé du Turner Prize pour Memory Bucket en 2004.
En 2007, il est nommé pour siéger au conseil d’administration de la Tate Gallery.

Les quatre projets qui suivent font tous référence à des aspects de l’histoire anglaise ou à sa culture. L’intérêt de Deller pour l’Histoire ou la culture vernaculaire s’y ressent. D’aucuns diront qu’il fait ce que l’on nomme de l’art socialement engagé. Pour ma part, le terme social ne me semble pas approprié. Deller agit plutôt comme un catalyseur, essayant de montrer les connections existant entre les choses.

« L’idée était simple : faire jouer par une fanfare traditionnelle une sélection de morceaux d’Acid House. » Jeremy Deller (livret du CD d’Acid Brass)

The History of the World, 1997-2004, wall painting, Courtesy de Art: Concept, Paris

Initié il y a plus de dix ans comme une collaboration musicale entre Jeremy Deller et la fanfare de Manchester, Williams Fairey, Acid Brass se réfère à l’histoire récente de la Grande Bretagne, d’un point de vue social et industriel. Il y est question du déclin de l’industrie sous le régime libéral de Margaret Thatcher.
D’un côté, les fanfares d’usine, héritées des conglomérats industriels du Nord de l’Angleterre (on encourageait les ouvriers à jouer dans les fanfares afin d’éviter qu’ils aillent au pub).
Et de l’autre, la musique acid house, venue de Chicago, qui émerge au milieu des années 80. Thatcher mène alors une politique sévère, obligeant les clubs à fermer leurs portes à deux heures du matin. Cela incite les clubbers à prolonger leurs fêtes de manière clandestine dans des usines désaffectées. Le phénomène des rave parties était né.
Les fanfares et l’acid house sont des formes de musique populaire, toutes deux fortement implantées dans le Nord de l’Angleterre. Elles sont en cela étroitement liées à la culture de la classe ouvrière. Pour le projet Acid Brass, elles sont associées en tant que symboles : un monde qui disparaît alors qu’un autre est en train d’émerger.
Depuis 1997, la fanfare Williams Fairey a joué Acid Brass à de nombreuses reprises en Angleterre et dans toute l’Europe, contribuant ainsi à la diffusion de l’œuvre.

Jeremy Deller et Alan Kane


Steam Powered Internet Computer, 2006, Courtesy du Modern Institute, Glasgow

Au beau milieu d’un champ dans le Kent, on pouvait utiliser un Macintosh, alimenté par une machine à vapeur.
La révolution industrielle et la révolution digitale, ici mises en relation de manière peu commune.
« Nous nous trouvons actuellement à un tournant dans l’histoire de l’Angleterre, à la fin d’une ère. » Jeremy Deller (The Guardian, 11/07/2006)

sur une idée de Jeremy Deller, réalisé par Mike Figgis et produit par Artangel
En mars 1984, l’Union Nationale des Mineurs se mit en grève. Le 18 juin, un affrontement des plus violents opposa grévistes et police près de la cokerie d’Orgreave. 15 000 personnes auraient été impliquées. » (extrait du film)

The Battle of Orgreave, 2001, Courtesy de Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY

Margaret Thatcher, Premier Ministre au moment des faits, est véritablement partie en guerre contre le Syndicat britannique des Mineurs. Le combat, qui fut l’un des plus violents de l’histoire de la contestation ouvrière en l’Angleterre, est ici rejoué.
Jeremy Deller puise dans la tradition anglaise, en effet, le fait de rejouer un évènement historique est très populaire en Angleterre.
Il a fallu trois ans pour concrétiser ce projet qui est en soi un travail de mémoire collective. On compte environ un millier de participants, parmi lesquels des habitants de la région, des figurants travaillant pour des agences de reconstitution d’événements historiques et enfin des mineurs qui ont rejoué un évènement traumatisant de leur vie.
A la différence des batailles qui ont eu lieu dans l’Antiquité ou au Moyen Age, Orgreave fait partie de l’histoire contemporaine. Mais cela montre aussi à quel point certains événements sont vite oubliés.
Le film n’était pas une fin en soi, c’est plutôt l’événement public qui intéressait Deller, et la façon dont il avait été déformé par les médias au moment des faits.
Son intérêt était moins de rejouer l’événement afin de guérir les consciences que d’apporter un dialogue sur celui-ci. Il voulait que les gens s’en souviennent, pas seulement ceux qui avait vécu Orgreave, mais tous les autres, l’opinion publique y comprise.

1998 à 2005
Jeremy Deller et Alan Kane
Définir Folk Archive n’est pas chose facile. Il pourrait s’agir d’une collection d’objets du quotidien et de traditions du Royaume-Uni : des objets faits main, des sculptures de légumes, un éléphant mécanique, des fêtes de village…


Folk Archive, vue de l’exposition “D’une révolution à l’autre”, Courtesy du Palais de Tokyo, 2008
Photo : Marc Domage

Le point de départ de Folk Archive était d’essayer de montrer certains aspects de la vie anglaise et de sa créativité, absents des cérémonies d’inauguration du Millenium Dome. Les deux artistes se sont toujours intéressés à ce que les gens pouvaient créer en dehors des traditionnels cercles artistiques. Comme le souligne Deller, “Folk Archive se rapporte aux gens qui sont complètement passionnés par ce qu’ils font et qui aiment ce qu’ils font (…) Cela concerne les obsessions et les intérêts des gens.” (conférence Deller & friends, Palais de Tokyo, 02/10/2008).
Le fonds constitutif de Folk Archive n’est pas issu de la culture de la société de consommation, tous les objets ont été créés de manière spontanée, sans intention de profit. Ils n’ont d’ailleurs aucune valeur financière à priori.
L’adjectif folk en Grande Bretagne a une connotation péjorative : il représente tout ce qui n’est pas urbain, donc tout ce qui est inintéressant. C’est d’ailleurs probablement pour cette raison que Jeremy Deller et Alan Kane ont choisi cet adjectif, pour essayer de reconsidérer son sens de manière plus large.
C’est un procédé qui n’a aucune limitation dans le temps, cela peut continuer encore et encore.
Le British Council en a fait l’acquisition en 2007.

Les trois projets ci-dessous ont vu le jour alors que Jeremy Deller se trouvait aux Etats-Unis. Le voyage est important car il génère des rencontres. Le studio n’est pas son territoire de prédilection, il préfère travailler à l’extérieur, essayant de relier des choses ou des événements avec des groupes humains. Il s’intéresse aux connections existant entre les lieux, le temps (passé et présent) et les personnes (individus et groupes).

2002, 14’10”, DVD, coul., son.

Veteran’s Day Parade, the End of the Empire, 2002, Courtesy de Art: Concept, Paris

Novembre 2001, jour des vétérans américains à Amargossa Valley au Nevada : la caméra de Jeremy Deller filme les chars et les voitures des différentes communautés qui défilent lentement.
Ce défilé en hommage des soldats américains morts au combat a lieu une fois par an.
Cette vidéo fait partie d’un ensemble de documents produits par Jeremy Deller lors d’un séjour aux Etats-Unis en 2001.

2002, livre et CD

Untitled (After the Goldrush), 2003, Courtesy de Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY

Il est resté en résidence pendant un an au CCAC Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts de San Francisco. Sur place, il a acheté une vieille Jeep qu’il a customisée avec des autocollants pour voitures. Ces autocollants sont une véritable tradition aux Etats-Unis pour exprimer ses idées ou son appartenance à une communauté. Deller les voit comme un possible substitut à la conversation dans un pays où les gens passent une grande partie de leur temps en voiture.
Quelques morceaux choisis : “God Bless America” (Dieu bénisse l’Amérique), “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” (Eloignez vos rosaires de mes ovaires), “Bush : Texas homegrown dope” (Bush : imbécile du Texas).
L’idée d’un guide sur la Californie du Nord lui est venue naturellement alors qu’il avait rassemblé de nombreux documents, photographies et témoignages d’individus rencontrés en chemin. Il en résulte évidemment un contenu beaucoup plus personnel puisque l’ouvrage est conçu comme un livre de chasse au trésor. Le lecteur peut s’il le souhaite partir à la recherche des gens que Jeremy a rencontré, parmi lesquels Alan Laird (ex-Black Panther qui possède à présent une galerie d’art) ou Dixie Evans (sosie de Marilyn Monroe, danseuse et propriétaire du Musée Burlesque Exotic World). Chacun d’entre eux donne l’opportunité de se remémorer certaines pages de l’Histoire des Etats-Unis. Bien évidemment, le titre est à la fois une référence à la ruée vers l’or qui débuta au milieu du XIXe siècle avec l’immigration massive, et à un album de Neil Young sorti en 1970.
Le guide s’articule autour de cinq endroits, de Oakland jusqu’au désert Mojave où Jeremy Deller a fait l’acquisition d’une parcelle de désert pour 2000 Dollars lors d’une vente aux enchères. Il tenait à conserver une partie du pays avant de partir. Ce moment a été enregistré et c’est d’ailleurs la première piste du CD, qui propose par ailleurs des morceaux de William E. Whitmore, un joueur de banjo.

2004, 28’39”, DVD, coul., son.

Helotes, 2004, Courtesy de Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY

Il était en résidence pendant deux mois à San Antonio au Texas lorsqu’il a réalisé ce film. Les rencontres et les témoignages se déroulent à deux endroits chargés sur le plan politique :
– Waco où le FBI a ordonné l’assaut du ranch des Davidiens après 51 jours de siège (rappelons que l’utilisation d’armes militaires contre des civils est supposée être illégale aux Etats-Unis).
– Crawford, où George W. Bush est domicilié car il y possède un ranch.
Deller le considère comme un film sur le Texas. Notre point de vue européen pourrait facilement avoir des clichés en tête lorsqu’il s’agit du Texas : des cowboys sur leurs chevaux devant un ranch par exemple. Mais ce parti pris est évité de manière très simple et très efficace. Deller a préféré recueillir les témoignages d’habitants de la région, comme celui d’un survivant de Waco, et il y a mêlé des images d’archives.
En 2002, lorsqu’il a tourné le film, le gouvernement Bush était encore très populaire. Certains ont cru déceler dans Memory Bucket une sorte d’anti-américanisme. Ce n’est pas le cas, Deller s’est efforcé d’établir des connections entre Crawford, ville patriotique et Waco, prise en état de siège par le gouvernement américain.
Il accorde la même attention à la patronne d’un café restaurant ravie que Bush soit venu dans son établissement qu’à cette femme quaker, farouchement opposée à la guerre en Irak.
Jeremy Deller a du mal à le considérer comme un documentaire : il s’agirait plutôt d’un journal vidéo selon lui. Le titre est emprunté à un magasin situé à Helotes, dans le Sud du Texas. Le film s’ouvre d’ailleurs sur un plan de la façade du magasin.
Memory Bucket rassemble différents éléments constitutifs du travail de Jeremy : c’est un film de type documentaire, il implique le voyage et la résidence, des interviews ont été menées et enfin, il existe cette interaction entre des individus et des identités collectives.
A la fin du film, la caméra capture les images d’un phénomène naturel qui se produit quotidiennement à la tombée de la nuit : des milliers de chauve-souris s’envolant de la grotte Bracken. Elles ne sont pas là par hasard. En effet, la ville d’Austin au Texas est également connue pour abriter la plus importante colonie de chauve-souris vivant en milieu urbain (et je soupçonne par ailleurs M. Deller d’avoir un faible pour ces animaux : voir le projet Bat House ci-après). A ce stade, le film en devient presque une peinture abstraite; il n’y a pas de conclusion (au sens traditionnel du terme en tout cas) car aucune solution n’est proposée. C’est la folie humaine qui est en quelque sorte le sujet du film, et c’est assez déprimant. La séquence avec les chauve-souris évoque le Romantisme du XIXe siècle. La chauve-souris était alors fréquemment employée en littérature ou chez les peintres Préraphaélites comme John Everett Millais.

Untitled (Bats), Courtesy de Art: Concept, Paris

Les deux projets suivants se concentrent sur l’appartenance à une communauté ou à un clan. Ils ont supposé la collaboration avec des fans dans les deux cas. Jeremy Deller s’intéresse ici à l’interaction existant entre l’individu et un groupe.

Cher ami / fan
Je suis actuellement en train de collecter des documents pour une exposition sur les Manics l’an prochain. Si vous êtes intéressés pour y prendre part ou pour obtenir plus d’information, n’hésitez pas à me contacter. Merci.

Ce projet est une collaboration entre Jeremy Deller et les fans du groupe de rock Manic Street Preachers. Deller a rassemblé un ensemble de peintures, dessins et poèmes réalisés par les fans.
Le titre est tiré de l’ouvrage de Richard Hoggart La Culture du Pauvre, qui présente un caractère autobiographique et qui déplore la perte d’une vraie culture populaire en Angleterre.
Ce projet utilise ce qui avait été créé dans l’intimité d’une chambre d’adolescent pour le montrer dans un contexte public au moyen d’une exposition et d’un livre.
Deller explore et questionne la relation complexe entre les artistes et le public.
Il a également co-réalisé avec Nick Abrahams le vidéo clip Found That Soul, pour les Manic Street Preachers. On y retrouve le groupe en train de jouer, des fans plongés dans la lecture de livres et des chauve-souris, le tout filmé en images infrarouges.

co-réalisé par Jeremy Deller et Nick Abrahams
2006, 72′, produit par Brown Owl Film pour Mute / EMI
Je ne crois pas qu’il existe un autre chanteur au monde qui suscite autant l’intérêt que Dave Gahan de Depeche Mode, en tout cas en Russie. On lui voue quasiment un véritable culte. Durant les six derniers mois, j’ai réalisé un documentaire sur les fans de Depeche Mode avec mon collaborateur Nick Abrahams. Nous avons voyagé en Europe et jusqu’au Mexique, mais les Russes étaient vraiment les plus passionnés.” Jeremy Deller (The Observer, 15/10/2006)


Depeche Mode étant célèbre dans le monde entier depuis plusieurs décennies, il n’y avait aucune utilité à réaliser un documentaire de plus sur leur carrière. Les auteurs ont choisi de se concentrer sur leurs fans et la manière dont ils expriment leur passion pour le groupe et leur musique. Le tout variant selon le contexte politique, économique ou social.
Le public mexicain est particulièrement intéressé par l’aspect religieux des chansons. En Iran, un fan est heureux de montrer quelques cassettes pirates qu’il a pu se procurer. Dans l’ex-URSS qui interdisait la vente d’objets dérivés du groupe, les fans se fabriquent eux-mêmes des t-shirts, des badges ou des boutons.
Le documentaire a été projeté au Festival du Film de Londres en octobre 2008, mais aucune date de sortie n’est prévue pour le moment.

Ce qui rend le travail de Jeremy Deller si particulier, c’est aussi le fait qu’il ne semble pas préoccupé par le marché de l’art. En effet, il conçoit des projets à grande échelle, qui ne sont pas facilement commercialisables. Il s’engage d’ailleurs la plupart du temps sur des projets à long terme comme :

Le titre rappelle le sac en plastique rose qu’il avait créé pour la foire d’art contemporain Frieze en 2003 : Speak to the Earth and it will show you.
Il s’agit dans ce cas d’une collaboration avec Skulptur Projekte Münster 2007. Le phénomène des jardins associatifs n’avait probablement pas échappé à Jeremy Deller alors qu’il séjournait à Münster, en Allemagne. Ils ont du lui sembler typiquement Allemands, en tout cas pour lui qui est Anglais.
Chacune des 54 associations de jardins partagés a reçu un carnet. Il leur est demandé de consigner par écrit toute information, qu’elle présente un caractère social, environnemental ou botanique et ce, jusqu’à la prochaine édition de Skulptur Projekte, en 2017. Histoires individuelles et histoires collectives sont au coeur de ce projet.

Un concours initié en 2007 pour créer un abri pour les chauve-souris de Londres.

livres / musique :
Folk Archive : Contemporary Popular Art from the UK, Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane, Book Works, Londres, 2005,160 pages
After the Goldrush, Jeremy Deller, Editions CCAC, San Francisco, Californie, 2002, 96 pages & CD
The Uses of Literacy, Jeremy Deller, Book Works, Londres, 1999, 48 pages
The English Civil War Part II, Personal accounts of the 1984-85 miner’s strike, Jeremy Deller, Artangel, 2002, 160 pages & CD
Life is to Blame for Everything : Collected Works & Projects, 1992-1999, Jeremy Deller, Salon 3, 2001, 96 pages
Acid Brass, The Williams Fairey Band, CD, Blast First / Mute Records, 1997

liens :
site de Jeremy Deller :

Folk Archive :

Film sur les fans de Depeche Mode à travers le monde :

galeries :
Art: Concept (Paris)
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York)
the Modern Institute (Glasgow)

sac plastique distribué au public de la foire d’art contemporain Frieze en 2003, Courtesy de Art: Concept, Paris

Jeremy Deller

Posted: January 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

That’s something that I try to bring out in my work: a sense of enjoyment of what I do.”
(interview for Tate online, Turner Prize, 2004)

Born in 1966.
London based.
1992: MA in Art History, Sussex University.
1988: BA in Art History, Courtauld Institute of Art. He majored in Architecture and Baroque.
While still studying he began to make little interventions in the public area, such as sticking up posters of exhibitions he wished he could have visited.
1986: meets Andy Warhol at an opening in London who invited him to come to the Factory for a two-week stay.
1993: he displayed his first exhibition at home while his parents were on holiday. Open Bedroom included twelve Keith Moon paintings (The Who’s first drummer who died from medicine abuse at age 32).
Designed T-shirts with explicit messages such as MY DRUG SHAME and MY BOOZE HELL (the latter of which Robbie Williams was spotted wearing at a children’s TV show, showing a surprising level of self-mockery).
Awarded the Turner Prize in 2004 for Memory Bucket.
Was appointed a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in 2007.

The four projects listed below deal with aspects of British history or British culture. Deller’s interest for History and vernacular culture is palpable. Some say he’s doing socially engaged art. I do not like the term social, Deller is more acting as a catalyst to me, trying to show the existing connections between things.

The idea was a simple one; to get a traditional brass band to play a selection of Acid House anthems” Jeremy Deller (leaflet of the Acid Brass CD)


The History of the World, 1997-2004, wall painting, Courtesy of Art: Concept, Paris

Started more than ten years ago as musical collaboration between Jeremy Deller and the Manchester’s Williams Fairey Brass Band, Acid Brass refers to Great Britain’s recent history on a social and industrial basis, in relation to the collapse of industry under the liberal regime of Margaret Thatcher.
On one side you’ll find the brass bands, legacy from the industrial conglomerates in North England (the workers were encouraged to gather in brass bands to avoid alcoholism).
In the mid-eighties emerges Chicago’s acid house music. Because of Thatcher’s severe politic, clubs were required to close at two am. In challenge to this, clubbers sometimes organized parties in disused factories: rave parties were born.
Both brass bands and acid house are popular music forms, spread especially in North England. In this respect they are linked to the working class culture. In the Acid Brass project they were combined as symbols: one for a dying era and the other for an emerging one.
Since 1997 the Williams Fairey Brass Band has played Acid Brass many times in England and all across Europe, thereby contributing to its spreading.

2006, Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane

Steam Powered Internet Computer, 2006, Courtesy of the Modern Institute, Glasgow

In the middle of a field in Kent you could actually use an Apple Mac powered by a steam engine. The two perfect symbols for industrial revolution and digital revolution put in some unlikely connection. “We’re at a certain point in British history, at the end of something“, says Deller (The Guardian, July 11, 2006)

2001, initiated by Jeremy Deller, filmed by Mike Figgis and commissioned by Artangel.
In March 1984, the National Union of Mineworkers went on strike.
On the 18th June that year, one of the most violent clashes between picketing miners and police took place near the Orgreave coking plant.
Estimates vary but as many as 15 000 people are thought to have been involved.” (taken from the film)

The Battle of Orgreave, 2001, Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY

Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time, launched what we can call a civil war against the National Union of Mineworkers. The fight was one of the most violent in the history of workers protest.
Jeremy Deller organized a reenactment of the event, (historical reenactments are a popular British tradition). It took three years to complete this project, a work of collective memory, staged with about a thousand participants including local people, members of amateur historical reenactment groups and minors involved in the battle who recreated a traumatic moment of their lives.
Unlike the battles that happened in Antiquity or in the Middle Ages, Orgreave is part of contemporary history. But it also argues that some events could be quickly forgotten. The film wasn’t the main goal in fine, Deller was more interested in the public event, the way it was deformed by the media at the time. He didn’t want The Battle of Orgreave to be part of a healing process, he rather wished to bring a dialog on the subject. He wanted the people to remember, not just the ones who experienced Orgreave, but all the others, the public opinion.

1998-2005, Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane
To define Folk Archive is not easy. It could be seen as a collection of everyday objects and traditions in the UK: hand objects, vegetable sculptures, a mechanical elephant, village processions…

Folk Archive, exhibition view “D’une révolution à l’autre”, Courtesy of the Palais de Tokyo, 2008.
Picture by Marc Domage

The starting point for Folk Archive was an attempt to show aspects of British life and creativity, different from the corporate vision of the Millennium Dome celebration. The two have always been interested in what people could create outside traditional artistic circles. As Deller states, “Folk Archive is about people who are absolutely obsessed with what they do and love what they do (…) It’s about people’s obsessions and interests.” (Deller & friends talk, Palais de Tokyo, October 02, 2008).
All the things constituting Folk Archive are anti-consumer culture, they were done spontaneously, without any profit-making intent and they have no financial value.
Folk is overtone pejorative in Great Britain: it represents everything outside the urban life that is to say everything uninteresting. That is probably why Deller and Kane picked the word, in an attempt to reassess the term folk in its wide definition.
There is no deadline; it’s an ongoing work.
The British Council acquired it in 2007.

The following three projects were done while Jeremy Deller was in the US. Travelling is important because it produces meetings with new people. He is not a studio-type artist; he is working outside, focusing on linking things or events with people. He is interested in the connection between places, time (past and present) and people (individual and collective).

2002, 14’10”, DVD, col, son

Veteran’s Day Parade, the End of the Empire, 2002, Courtesy of Art: Concept, Paris

November 2001, Veteran’s Day in Amargossa Valley, Nevada: Jeremy Deller is filming the floats and the cars of the different communities.
Veteran’s Day happens once a year and pays tribute to the American soldiers killed in the line of duty.
This video is part of different pieces of work Deller produced while staying in the US in 2001.

2002, book and CD

Untitled (After the Goldrush), 2003, Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY

He spent a year in residency at the CCAC Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. On the spot he bought an old Jeep soon customized with bumper stickers. Bumper stickers are part of American culture to express ideas or the belonging to some community. Deller believes they are a possible substitute for proper conversation in a country where people spend a lot of time in their cars. A few ones: “God Bless America“, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries“, “Bush: Texas homegrown dope“.
The idea of a guidebook of North California came naturally to him as he was collecting many documents, photographs and accounts given by people he met. The result is obviously much more personal as it is shaped as a treasure hunting book. There is an opportunity for the reader to look for the people Jeremy has met, including among others Alan Laird (ex-Black Panthers who now runs an art gallery) and Dixie Evans (Marilyn Monroe look-alike, dancer and owner of the Exotic World Burlesque Museum). Each of them is an opportunity to recall a few events of U.S. history. Of course the title refers to the California Gold Rush that began in the mid-XIXth century with mass immigration, and also to a 1970 album by Neil Young.
The guide is organized around a five-stop journey from Oakland to the Mojave Desert where he bought a piece of land for 2000$ at an auction before leaving the country. It was recorded and it’s actually the first track on the CD, which also features songs by William E. Whitmore, a banjo player.

2004, 28’39”, DVD, col, son

Helotes, 2004, Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY

He did the film while on a two months residency in San Antonio, Texas. Meetings and interviews are based on two locations much politically charged:
– Waco where the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched an attack on the Branch Davidian ranch during a 51-day siege. (let’s remember that it is supposedly illegal to use military weapons against civilians in the U.S.).
– Crawford, hometown of George W. Bush who also owns a ranch there.
According to the artist, it’s a film about Texas. Our European outlook may think obviously about cowboys riding horses in front of their ranch when it comes to Texas but Deller avoids this cliché in a very simple and effective way. He conducted interviews with local people, including a Waco survivor, put together with TV files.
In 2002 when Deller shot the film, the Bush Administration was still very popular. Some people thought they detected some anti-Americanism in Memory Bucket. Beyond the fact that such criticism is not particularly relevant, Deller’s intent was to make some connections between a patriotic town such as Crawford and Waco, a city besieged by the U.S. government.
He gives much attention to the happy enthusiastic owner of a coffee shop, where Bush habited, as an old Quaker lady who disapproves the Iraq war.
Jeremy Deller hardly reckons that it is a documentary; it is more a video diary according to him. The title is taken from a scrapbook store located in Helotes, in the south of Texas, which can be seen as the opening shot of the film.
Memory Bucket holds some features of Jeremy’s work: looks like a documentary, involves travel and residency, interviews conducted and finally interaction between individual and collective identities.
At the end of the film the camera records a natural phenomenon, which happens on a daily basis at twilight: thousand of bats emerging from the Bracken Cave and flying off. Bats are not in the film by chance: Austin, Texas is also well known to have the world’s largest urban bat colony (and I suspect Mr. Deller to have a crush on bats as well: see below The Bat House Project link). The film almost becomes an abstract painting at this point ; there is no conclusion (at least in the traditional meaning of the word) because no solution is stated here. In some ways the whole film is about human craziness and it is quite sad. On the other hand bats come and bring to mind the XIXth century Romanticism when they were frequently depicted in writings or Pre-Raphaelites paintings such as the John Everett Millais ones.

Untitled (Bats), 2004, Courtesy of Art: Concept, Paris

The following two projects focus on the belonging to a community or clan. Here are collaborations with groups of individuals, fans in both cases. He is interested in the interaction existing between a single individual in regards to a group of people.

Dear Friend / Fan
I’m currently collecting material for a Manics exhibition next year. If you are interested in taking part or you need more information please get in touch. Thanks. Jeremy
This project is collaboration between Jeremy Deller and the fans of rock band Manic Street Preachers. Deller has gathered a collection of paintings, drawings and poems made by the fans.
The title is taken from Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy, a mostly autobiographical book that also deplores the loss of some real popular culture in England.
What has been conceived in the intimacy of a teenager’s bedroom was put into the public sphere with an exhibition and a book release.
Deller explores and investigates the complex relationship between artists and the audience.
He also co-directed with Nick Abrahams on the MSP video Found That Soul which included infrared pictures of the band playing, supposed fans reading books and bats.

co- directed by Jeremy Deller and Nicholas Abrahams
2006, 72′, a Brown Owl Film for Mute / EMI
I don’t think there’s another lead singer in the world who has the kind of following that Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode enjoys in Russia. It’s like a benevolent cult. For the last six months, my colleague Nick Abrahams and I have been making a film about Depeche fans, and we’ve travelled from Europe to Mexico, but the Russians were the most passionate.” Jeremy Deller (The Observer, October 15, 2006)

Depeche Mode has been famous all over the world for decades; there was really no need for another documentary on their career. The authors chose to focus on their fans and how they expressed their love of the band and the music in different ways, depending on the political, economical and social context they are living in.
The audience in Mexico is very much interested in the religious aspect of the songs. In Iran, a fan is happy to show some bootleg tapes he illegally found. In former USSR where there was no DM merchandise on sale, fans are making themselves T-shirts, badges and buttons.
The movie was screened at the London Film Festival in October 2008 but has not been released yet.

What also makes Jeremy Deller’s work so odd is the fact he doesn’t seem art market oriented: he is producing massive things, but not easily marketable. He often commits to long-term projects such as:

The title recalls the pink plastic bag he designed for Frieze Art Fair 2003 Speak to the Earth and it will show you.
It was a collaboration with Skulptur Projekte Münster 2007. Jeremy Deller probably noticed the associative gardens phenomenon while staying in Münster, Germany. Those must have seemed typically German to his British eyes.
Each of the fifty four shared-garden associations were given a notebook, they were then asked to write down any social, environmental and botanical information in this diary until the next Skulptur Projekte issue in 2017. Individual stories and collective stories are the core of this project.

A contest launched in 2007 to design and provide a home for bats in London.

books / music :
Folk Archive: Contemporary Popular Art from the UK, Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane, Book Works, London, 2005, pp.160
After the Goldrush, Jeremy Deller, Editions CCAC, San Francisco, California, 2002, pp.96 & CD
The Uses of Literacy, Jeremy Deller, Book Works, London, 1999, pp.48
The English Civil War Part II, Personal accounts of the 1984-85 miner’s strike, Jeremy Deller, Artangel, 2002, pp.160 & CD
Life is to Blame for Everything: Collected Works & Projects, 1992-99, Jeremy Deller, Salon 3, 2001, pp.96
Acid Brass, The Williams Fairey Band, CD, Blast First / Mute Records, 1997

Jeremy Deller’s website:

Folk Archive:

Film about Depeche Mode fans around the world:

Art Concept (Paris)
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York)
the Modern Institute (Glasgow)

Plastic bag given to the audience of Frieze Art Fair 2003, Courtesy of Art: Concept, Paris