Jeremy Deller is a rare artist whose work has won him fans well outside of the micro-culture of the fine art world. Large-scale event-pieces such as “The Battle of Orgreave” — a 2001 reenactment of the violent 1984 clash between police and miners in the North of England — and his recent tribute to the fallen soldiers of the Somme have gained him a kind of populist appreciation not usually reserved for Turner Prize winners.
His interests in acid house music, mine workers, brass bands and Peter Stringfellow have gained him a certain cult status. Deller’s career-long fascination with the niches of British culture and music has led to a reputation as a sort of unofficial artist of the acid house movement — a tag he’s reluctant to indulge in too much. “Well, I feel a bit of a fraud,” he explains from his London studio. “I didn’t really partake in that early acid house moment and never really pretended I did, but I made work about it. I’m interested in it for a moment, a social one as well as a musical one. I was interested in what it meant.”His latest project has seen him back on familiar ground: heading up a series of talks at London’s Paul Mellon Centre, entitled “The Look Of Music.”
The relationship between the sounds
The talks will examine the relationship between the sounds of popular music and the aesthetic and images they produce. Those who have already spoken in the series include acclaimed set designer Es Devlin and writer Jon Savage whose book “England’s Dreaming” is considered to be the quintessential text on punk culture by many, and next week sees the final installment, featuring Art-Pop icons The Pet Shop Boys.
The premise of these lectures will be the question ‘What does music look like?’ — but how close does Deller think he and his collaborators will get to actually answer that? “Oh, we won’t get close at all”, he replies with a typical lack of self-seriousness. “It’s just a tagline, really.” However, there is plenty of weighty discussions to be had about the relationship between pop music and art, using case studies of musicians who seem to best explore this relationship, such as the aforementioned The Pet Shop Boys and American rock icon Iggy Pop, the focus of Jon Savage’s lecture.
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