Jeremy Deller

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

I feel a bit smug writing this post, as I do believe I have landed the best work placement that exists (well, in Manchester anyway). For those of you who don't know, I work at the independent arthouse cinema at Cornerhouse in Manchester, as a marketing intern, as part of my film course. Yesterday I trotted down to the Whitworth art gallery - beneath the stormy Manc skies - with a few of my colleagues to listen to a talk given by Turner prize winning artist, Jeremy Deller.

He was speaking in a lecture theatre at the gallery, and was introduced by some arty geezer with a German accent and long hair in a ponytail, who announced that Deller's work partner, Anne, had given her presentation in high heels but that Deller was going to give his barefoot. Outlandish, I know. The young London born artist sat on the stage, pushing his floppy hair back from his face, behind his Mac and a desk littered with discs and bits of paper, and began to speak with an air of sophistication that told us he was from 'That London...'.

He is responsible for such works as 'Memory Box' - a documentary about George Bush's hometown in Texas, but as a rule tends to make 'rock-umentaries' such as the coverage of Depeche Mode fans in Eastern Europe (definitely watch this if only for the opportunity to see loads of Russians dressed like a young Dave Gahan). He told us that he was highly inspired by the Baroque art movement and especially its tendency to encourage audience participation (mostly religiously motivated) and that his break in the industry came when in 1986 he met Andy Warhol in a bar in London who offered him the chance to go and work in his factory in New York for two weeks.

Deller seemed most proud of the documentary about a brass band who played acid house music to an audience at a trendy London gig venue in 1997. We were shown an extract from the film, which was genuinely fascinating, and as Deller pointed out, was especially focused on the people, both in the band and in the audience. He took a back seat as the documenter, and let the action happen without intervention. Jeremy claimed that he was doubtful whether he would be able to achieve success with this piece as he was taking a huge risk in shaking up two very separate genres in such a way, but admitted that it turned out to be one of his best pieces of work.

Oozing with charm but also capable of appearing to have his feet firmly on the ground, he expressed his passion for northern cities and the people who make them so interesting. He told us of the plans for an international procession that will take place in the summer throughout the streets of Manchester, in which he hopes to create a memorable occasion, which will really draw people in and generate a lively new atmosphere in the city.

For a chance to take a little nosey into the creative mind of Jeremy Deller, click your mouse on this part here >


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