Jeremy Deller

Art is Magic

‘Art is a way of staying in love with the world. It is also a form of Magic.’

Thank you to the Morriss’s for this book!

It’s quite difficult to have avoided Jeremy Deller’s name over his expansive career. His wealth of projects span many mediums across the world of art, filtering through politics, music, identity and history. Art is Magic is a reflection on his career thus far, as he explores his own key works, taking a step back to discuss both context and impact.

Music plays a large part in Deller’s relationship to art. His emphasis on rave culture is a reminder of how integral this has been to the UK and beyond, despite having been continually dismissed by the political landscape. I remember watching Everybody in the Place a few years back and I always thought it was an interesting way to interact with this culture and its history. Especially to those who were not yet old enough to be immersed or experience it.

Sometimes when you involve yourself in something it can be difficult to know what you truly thought of it before. I’m not sure it’s naivety but it’s interesting to return to a mind that lacks the same influences that you currently have.

In a lot of Deller’s work I feel as though he works with context in a compelling way. We often take the context of many things for granted in our daily life, despite it having more prominence in recent memory. We may live next to a historical monument, we have access to books that are thousands of years old, and our environment is built upon an endless amount of conflict.

Even talking about heavy metal in the 1970s and 1980s as a ritualistic re-creation of heavy industry made me think about the genre in a different way, though one which seems so obvious now.

‘Heavy metal is a requiem mass for a dying way of life.’

Many of Deller’s projects remind us to be aware of that. He subverts perspective really well, so we can interact with it in different ways, ways we never thought we could. From his Sacrilege project to Our Hobby is Depeche Mode. It can sometimes be provocative to see another perspective in a very obvious sense, something that is impossible to miss.

There are many different ways of moving through the world and Deller’s work gives you a calling to change your own ways of moving through it. Changing your perspective is of importance to everyone and sometimes you just need to be forced to look at something for it to stick.

There’s a sense of agency and accessibility to Deller’s art which I really like. A desire or interest to do something is followed by a realisation that there is actually not that much stopping you from doing it. I think that’s a powerful thing to understand, and can really open the world up to you in a way it never did before.

If you’re interested in any of Deller’s work I’d also recommend Tony Parker’s ‘The People of Providence’, which reminds me of a Deller-esque project and similar to a project that I’d like to do at some point in the future.

‘Like us, he enjoyed the space between what you understand and what you don’t.’