Welcome on our blog !
As explained during the English class, our project for this semester is about the exhibition "From One Revolution to Another" ("D’une revolution à l’autre"), curated by the artist Jeremy Deller at Le Palais de Tokyo. Your answers to our questionnaire showed that you would be interested in visiting this exhibition with us. This outing will take place on Friday, 12th December, 2009 at 6 pm after the class.
By the way, we can tell you more about the organization of this event. Thinking of you and guided by the original shape of the exhibition, we decided to avoid the classic “guided tour” which could be exhausting. Actually, our aim is to point some details in order that you construct your interpretation by yourself. That is why we have prepared a playful quiz that we will give you on the spot. Furthermore, we are preparing audio files, that you will be able to download in few days. These podcasts will give you more indications by our own voices.
Through this first contact by our blog, we also take the opportunity to introduce you to the way we will use it. This blog will serve as an interface between you and us. Indeed, we will post articles related to the social, historical and cultural background of this unusual exhibition. In your turn, you will have the possibility to enrich the content of the blog by writing comments, notably with your feed-back after the visit of the exhibition. It should be a productive way to share ideas. And we are sure that topics like popular culture and cultural revolution would inspire you!
We would be glad to see you in great number at Le Palais de Tokyo!
Let’s make this blog alive!
Laura, Romain, Emilie, Anna and Aurélien.
Jeremy Deller is a celebrated British artist who makes politically and socially charged performance works. Born in 1966 in London, England, Jeremy Deller studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England, and later at University of Sussex, Brighton, England. After a period of unemployment at the end of his studies, Deller embarked on conceptual art. Very quickly, he decided to explore the cultural and political heritage of Britain and its folklore. Collaboration and participation are central to Deller’s work. As he explains, “A good collaboration is like going on a long journey without a map, never knowing quite where you will end up”.
Jeremy Deller is a constant traveller. His work combines performance, video, sound, ephemera, and photographs into projects that explore the history of a particular region. Deller’s process involves physical exploration of places and meeting with the people who live there.
The results of his research take various forms and offer a snapshot of the reality of a territory at one time, involving its inhabitants: “That’s what I’m interested in as an artist, when the spectator becomes the artwork or becomes a part of an artwork”, says Deller.
The artist crosses many disciplines in its projects: music, social and popular traditions. In this sense, the most emblematic project of Jeremy Deller is Acid Brass. This idea of a brass band playing acid house, came in a pub in 1997, is a reference to the history of Britain, both popular, social and industrial. Indeed, brass bands were initially set up to keep workers away from the pub. It was a way for the management of factories to give the workers some sort of entertainment. Ultimately, each factory had a brass band. “This is all part of our industrial heritage now. The appearance of a brass band is similar to that of industry”, considers Deller.
He is best-known for the “Battle Orgreave”, a vivid reconstruction of, and documentary about, a key battle between miners and police in the 1984/85 miners strike.
Then comes the moment of consecration for the Jeremy Deller. He won the Turner price in 2004, the most prestigious award for contemporary artists, rewarding Memory Bucket, a documentary which explores the state of Texas, focusing on two politically charged locations: the site of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco and President Bush's home town of Crawford.
In 2006, Jeremy Deller was involved in a touring exhibit of contemporary British folk art. Moreover, Deller is the co-initiator of the Folk Archive, which some pieces are displayed in the exhibition "From one revolution to another" for which le Palais de Tokyo gave him carte-blanche.
Le Palais de Tokyo is a well-known art center dedicated to contemporary creation. Far away from immaculate walls of museums, this site of discoveries has accustomed its visitors to be astonished by the themes proposed and the pieces presented.
This time, Le Palais de Tokyo goes further in the interrogation of art in its meaning. Giving a free hand to Jeremy Deller, the art center introduces a reflection around its future as an artistic institution. Actually, the exhibition “From One Revolution to Another” is, first of all, a revolution in the way to consider art production places. Does it only deal with the aesthetic and market of art or could it get into places dedicated to reflection on world around us?
Whatever the answer, the exhibition is a one shot attempt in this direction. Indeed, Jeremy Deller has brought many pictures and objects together, which are precisely not thought as “art”. Moreover, most of the personalities he invited to participate to this exhibition are not artists, strictly speaking. Pieces are not presented for their aesthetic value but for their charge of history. Some of it could be beautiful, funny or sticking but the point is that all of them attest of a part of revolution.
Revolution? How such pieces coming from popular traditions (as painted eggs, flowered pants or a mechanical elephant), presented in the main room “Folk archive”, could be revolutions? Jeremy Deller considers, in parallel of the great historical periods as the industrial revolution, that each creation made by a man could be a real revolution in itself. It is about changing its own life or trying to have influence on the others ones by amuse them during a village party for example. All actions created in the aim to establish social ties could be considerate as a resistance to impersonality of life and then, as a revolution.
Within the framework of our English tuition, we have made the choice to focus our project on the British popular culture through the exhibition “From One Revolution to Another” at Le Palais de Tokyo. Of course, we are not pretending to draw an exhaustive definition of what is, in essence, a moving entity. Indeed, it is just a try to reveal some particularities of a singular folk.
The first room “The folk archive” is a documentary fund, collected by Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane. This is rather an ethnological collection of creative practices and tradition, some of which are really ancient. It witnesses in its own way the British popular cultural identity.
1998 - 2008 Ed Hall’s Banners
The second room presents a collection of banners painted and embroidered for different associations by Ed Hall, an architect involved in social movements. These banners tell in a particular manner the 30 last years of British history viewed by minorities and social concerns they defend. Ed Hall has selected by himself the banners which he has lent for this exhibition.
William Scott. Good Person
This section presents the William Scott’s urban planning project that would see San Francisco rebuilt as a new city named “Praise Frisco” and a series of portrait works which depict himself, his family and members of his local church. William Scott works at Creative Growth Art Centre (USA) that is an art workshop that serves a community of adult artists with mental, physical and developmental disabilities.
1962-2001 The beginning of the rock in France (in collaboration with Marc Touché)
Two collections are presented in this room. The first is an archive of Golf Drouot, an emblematic place for the birth of rock in France. The second collection is the archive of a rehearsal studio of an amateurish rock group Against You. Both archives are a kind of contemporary archaeology that allows determine social appurtenance of members of the group.
1917-1939 Sound in Z (Matt Price and Andrey Smirnov)
This section presents documents, photographs and visuals which are linked with archives of Theremin Centre in Moscow, a centre of researches that linked the physical aspect of acoustic and the musical sciences. The aim of this archive is to restore the history and the culture of this “artistic utopia” of 1910-1920 which was destroyed in confrontation with the soviet authorities.
1760-2008 All that is solid melts into air (with Scott King)
The title of the exposition is a citation from the Communist Manifest. This section put together a lot of objects and witnesses of the period between 1760 and 2008. Some of them are representative of the state of industrial development in Victorian Great Britain and enthusiastic artist’s attitude toward it. Another part of the documents demonstrate relations of transition and consequence that could be established between the industrial revolution and the cultural one, which is the appearance of the rock music.
During and next to the exhibition, Jermey Deller and Le Palais de Tokyo organize cultural events which are linked to the theme of the move from One Revolution to Another.
One of those events, “Acid Brass”, took place on Sunday, 26th October, 2008 at Le Louvre. It was the concert of a traditional brass band playing acid house music.
Brass bands were set up initially as a way to entertain the workers, and their appearance remind of factories, as the instruments are like pipes and piping.
They represent the industrial revolution, but play a digital music. That contrast between the instruments (the industrial revolution) and the music they play (the cultural revolution) is representative of the whole exhibition.
JD : Absolutely so, they could not believe they had to review a show of artworks by people they didn’t know and who were anonymous. They lost some kind of authority and in a way it threatened themselves. One reviewer was so angry that she said “By showing this work in London in a gallery you are depriving real artists for space to show their work”. We couldn’t think she was being serious but she was. There is a real moment where you think, oh shit, that’s what the art world is really about…
Did some critics think you were actually making fun of the people shown in the Folk Archive ?
JD : You always get that ! That’s the first thing they say, that we are exploiting those people and that they don’t realize what’s happening when they have their work shown. But the people you see in the archive know their work is funny. Most critics think those people are not as intelligent as everyone else because they’re not artists or in the artworld or in London. In the exhibition, there are one show about the industrial revolution in Britain and in some way, it’s about loosing contact with the countryside. There is a suspicion of things made in the countryside.
Most of the archive is extremely funny, why did Alan Kane and you treat it in a very objective and serious way?
JD : We wanted it to be displayed clearly and carefully not in a chaotic way, we were not interested in making an artwork of the show. It is shown in a very straight way but the humour remains. If it were shown in a chaotic way with funny works in it, I think it would loose the humour.
Your artistic practice has been described as one of an artist/ethnographer. What do you think about it?
JD : To be honest I try not to think about how I am viewed, I haven’t studied either !
Parades are a recurring motif in your work. You seem to enjoy public events...
JD : I’m just drawn to public displays of any kind, parades are very appealing because of the music and also they hold a mirror up to daily reality. It’s not unusal. I think everyone enjoy public events, we’re all curious people. It’s part of human nature to be curious and interested in something happening in the streets or in the public sphere in general, it’s part of our social make up.
Parades and exhibitions are both public events. Do they have something in common for you?
JD : Not really, exhibitions are only semi public in my opinion. For instance, the entrance is not free. And then on the other hand, art exhibitions are now treated like spectacular events, people expect that from art exhibitions. This exhibition in Paris is definitively not spectacular, it is a very traditionnal exhibition with just objects and images.
Jeremy Deller refuses a hierarchy between the arts and everyday objects, the commercial and the common. His objective is to capture performance, perishable, the life moment where popular class escapes of its dark life. Deller is interested in British life in its small details; details that define a culture, an identity: multicolored cakes, ritual battles between villages, parades disguised, sculptures of vegetables, etc. It is an unofficial Britain version. It is the creative life! Folk Archive, recently purchased by the British Council, shows the continuity of folklore in Britain today.
Inevitably, there are a lot of humors. Photos and videos are still exposed kitsch and show wacky traditions. This exhibition shows the taste of English for the costumes, fancy dress. For us it is explained in two ways: there is a tradition inherited from Shakespeare, where women were not allowed to play on stage. The men were on stage to travesty. However, there is also the importance of social classes. In England, the social hierarchy is so rigid that costumes had the only way to be what you could not be.
Folk Archive Album
In the hall, a large banner welcomes the visitor. Then forty banners in the first room, celebrating clubs, committees, associations, political organizations and trade unions with their demands.
The banner art is highly developed and very traditional in England. This second exhibition is made up by Ed Hall, a senior architect in London who now devotes his life to British demands. His guests are associations engaged in social causes and political unions, families plunged into mourning, parents outraged by q school closure, or the Union rail, the International Union for sex workers.
The collection embraces the period since the beginning of the industrial revolution in England in 1760. One part of the documents witnesses the enthusiasms linked to the development. Another part presents (like Adam Curtis’s documentaries) the process of decline which was rather extended. Social mutations and crises it has produced still apparent until nowadays. This section evokes possible links between the industrial revolution and the musical production. In Great Britain the rock music appears at the moment of decline of the industrial development, so it can be interpreted as its natural consequence.
The part consecrated to the city of Manchester embodies this relation of transition. Once being a symbol of the industrial revolution in England, Manchester became a center of rock and punk music. Other significant examples are the genealogy of the rock singer and photographs of Adrian Street who was a miner’s son who chose to become a professional catcher. In JD’s opinion, the photo of this man, clothed as a travesty, and his father in a mine is a real provocation!
This name was given to this period by musicologists. Firstly it evokes the sound produced by the first electronic machines, a kind of “zzzz”. At the second place the horizontal lines of the letter Z graphically expresses relations between avant-gardes researchers with soviet authorities: the relation of oppression and confrontation. The part of the archive which deals with history of condemnation of scientists presents this aspect.
This room is an example of harmonious union of political, industrial and cultural revolutions. The scientific and industrial developments were used to inspire and advance researches in physical aspect of the music, the acoustics to apply it to the artistic creation. One of the results of these researches was the invention of the very first electronic instruments. Another aspect which had interested JD and which links this room with the others is the topic forgotten individuals by the big History: this period is practically unknown. It aligns this archive with Folk Archive.
This archive comes from the Institute of the Civilisation of Europe and Mediterranean. They were constituted by Marc Trouvé, the custodian of the institute. He had chosen the archives of the club Drouot because it is an emblematic place for the rock in France. Many famous artists like Johnny Hallyday began there. This is the direction of Le Palais de Tokyo who helped this meeting in the process of preparing (for) the exhibition.
These archives explore the beginning of a new, revolutionary style of music in France. They also deal with the place this kind of popular culture could take toward the official culture. So we can notice that rehearsals studios of amateurish groups were based in underground cellars.
- HALL Stuart (2007), Identités et cultures. Politique des Cultural Studies, Paris, éd. Amsterdam, 330 p.
- MORIN Edgar (1975), L’Esprit du temps 1. Névroses, Paris, Grasset, 280 p.
- MAIGRET Eric, MACE Eric (dir.) (2005), Penser les médiacultures. Nouvelles pratiques et nouvelles approches de la représentation du monde, Paris, Armand Collin, 190 p.
- HOGGART Richard (1970), La culture du pauvre, Paris, Editions de minuit, 424 p.
- BOURCIER Marie-Hélène (2001), Queer zones. Politiques des identités sexuelles, des représentations, des savoirs, Paris, Balland (réédition : Paris, éd. Amsterdam, 2006), 250 p.