Turner Prize winning conceptual artist Jeremy Deller had a major mid-career retrospective at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank in London in the Spring of 2012 under the banner of Joy in people. He’s an interesting chap; check out his website. Among a lot of other things, he’s worked with music and ideas of folk culture in a variety of ways. His Uses of literacy – an exhibition of Manic Street Preachers fan art – combines both, while his Brian Epstein died for you walking tour of Liverpool reached parts of the city off the National Trust map. Acid brass consisted of a brass band playing acid house anthems, which worked surprisingly well (there’s a sample on his site). The piece of interest here at Lillabullero though, is Folksong (2007), a set of three offset prints.
Here’s what Deller had to say about it in the cover-date April edition of The Word magazine:
“It’s based on the lyrics of Victoria by The Kinks: three posters in Arabic, Hebrew and English. At different points in the Hayward show you can pick up three posters and you have a triptych. That song is amazing. It’s almost like William Blake in its simplicity. Much as I love The Kinks, I think Ray Davies has gone a bit Morrissey.”
Never mind the last bit of the quote. There are photos on his web site – click on the Bless this acid house poster. It’s a setting of the second verse of ‘Victoria’ without the Victorias. Here they are together, as a triptych, lifted from the wallery.org website:
or as they were originally displayed (I’m afraid I’ve lost where I pinched this one from and have just failed in Google image to find it again):
Folksong was made for a 2007 exhibition entitled Words fail me at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, where it was reviewed in Detroit’s Metro Times by one Brian Sholis, who described it as consisting of:
… an excerpt of a traditional English folk song about patriotism, nationhood and an individual’s relationship to those concepts. The central pile presents the lyrics in English, rendered in the typeface used on the London Underground; to the right they are printed in Arabic; to the left they have been translated into Hebrew. Higgs [the curator of the show] elaborates: “These letter forms – if we don’t read Arabic or Hebrew – are continually politicized. For example, the Arabic font stops being an elegant, illegible calligraphy and becomes something else instead.”
“… a traditional English folk song …” I bet Ray would have loved that.
Jim Lambie’s The Kinks was shortlisted for the Turner prize in 2005. Born the year You really got me was released, he was once in a band called The Boy Hairdressers, members of whom, much later, went on to become Teenage Fanclub. His colourful installations often have reference points in rock music and popular culture. Here is his The Kinks piece:
Yup, that’s the whole room. His floor and stairway installations can transform buildings – just put his name into Google images to be amazed. That’s The Kinks rendered as a Rorschach test. The source of the image is on the edges of my memory … help! He’s also done installations referencing The Doors and The Byrds, as well as an album cover for Primal Scream.