June 18, 2016 - Azkuna Zentroa - Jeremy Deller: The infinitely variable ideal of the popular
June 18, 2016

Azkuna Zentroa

Jeremy Deller, Open Bedroom.

Jeremy Deller
The infinitely variable ideal of the popular
June 21–October 9, 2016

Azkuna Zentroa
Azkuna Zentroa
Arriquíbar Plaza, 4
48010 Bilbao

T +34 944 01 40 14

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Curated by Ferran Barenblit, Amanda de la Garza and Cuauhtémoc Medina


Azkuna Zentroa presents the exhibition The infinitely variable ideal of the popular by the artist Jeremy Deller.  It covers an extended period of production, from the 1990s to the present, and including the piece Social Parade, which was inaugurated at Manifesta 5 (2004), the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, which took place in San Sebastian. Deller's work is notable for his reflection on British culture and its historical and political contradictions, in the context of a post-industrial and multicultural capitalist society. This exhibition is articulated around central concepts that seek to link various themes running through his work, such as the art circuit, popular British culture and worker's culture in England. This exhibition has been already exhibited in the CA2M (Madrid), the MUAC (Mexico) and the Fundación PROA (Argentina).

The exhibition is articulated around a number of different central concepts: the art circuit, popular British culture and worker’s culture in England. Both his treatment of the popular and his handling of the pop culture of the 1990s are traversed by humour. The artist appropriates its symbols, icons, objects and modes of circulation. British popular culture is represented through its stereotypes, as a manner of inverting that very sign. Thus, their introduction in the art circuit appears as an attempt to erase the separation between high and low culture, or, rather, of a mutual contamination of both aesthetics and modes of circulation.

Similarly, through the re-enactment of situations related to historical events, the artist researches the relationship between art, memory and history. This approach is evident in iconic pieces such as The Battle of Orgreave (2001), or through the recuperation of characters that embody cultural shifts, as in So Many Ways To Hurt You (The Life And Times of Adrian Street) (2010), a piece in which he portrays the life of a transvestite professional wrestler who comes from a coal miners’ family. An important aspect of Deller’s work involves the construction of different instances of collective interaction, where a question arises regarding the possibilities and impossibilities of the collective, and about the role of art in the configuration of these scenarios and collectivities. 

Deller provides a reinterpretation of recent history and generates compelling stories based on elements taken from popular culture. In 2004 he won the Turner Prize for a series of documentaries, outstanding among which is the video Social Parade, which was inaugurated at Manifesta 5 (2004), the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, which took place in San Sebastian, Spain.

Through paintings, posters, photographs and video installations, the exhibition shows Jeremy Deller’s interest in the recreation of historical or everyday events into which he places a detonator to make things happen.

Paradoxes of popular culture
Jeremy Deller (London, 1966) is an artist who questions the paradoxes of popular culture, particularly British culture, within the context of a post-industrial society. These paradoxes are not just something that exist in vernacular demonstrations, in folklore or in performances, but are something that can be promoted by art. Art is capable of producing scenarios, experiences, moments of community, where the paradoxes, the nooks and crannies and the cracks are not resolved but become productive. Since the 1990s, it has generated a series of practices and events that involve the operation of diverse desires and social tensions, as well as the different existing representations of identity, history and community.

Intervention of Llano Proiekt
As part as the exhibition, the cultural community Llano Proiekt has carried out an action-intervention around one of the most highlighted projects of Jeremy Deller: So Many Ways to Hurt You (The Life and Times of Adrian Street), which delves into the life of Adrian Street, a fighter who the artist knew about because of a photograph taken in 1973, where Adrian Street, wearing his glam star attires, is posing with his father in the Welsh mine where several of his ancestors had worked.

Llano proiekt proposes a "photocopy" based on that same image, which will let the spectator dig into the human dimension of the anonymous territories, the popular culture and the work that has marked the transformation of various generations of the industrial metropolis of Bilbao.

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