Jeremy Deller is a purveyor of Englishness, a specific kind of patriotism that is entrenched firmly in the latter quarter of the twentieth century. His works are provocative, but almost bland in their media message. He depicts a culture that perceives, understands and translates a part of our culture that is taken for granted - Englishness as a given. In this, a new mid-career survey of the artist's work at Hayward Gallery, Deller presents series of works that display just why he is one of the most vital commentators on English culture today.
Divided into the thematic sections: Music, History, Tea & Wrestling and Bats & Black, Deller deconstructs the English psyche by way of the almost insidious way politics and the mass media pervade into our cultural consciousness and how we, as persons living Englishness, translate these into our daily lives. A recent work, the film Our Hobby is Depeche Mode, looks at how followers of the eponymous synth band incorporate fandom into their world. Works including Steel Harmony and Acid Brass cover contemporary classics with steel drum and brass band respectively.
This deconstruction of a cultural more by inversion of its exposition is explicit throughout Deller's work, and is evident in one of his most important pieces: The Battle of Orgreave. With film director Mike Figgis, Deller re-enacted the notorious chapter in British history where police fought pickets supporting the miners' strike. This work is representative of Deller's fascination with nurture, environment and a culture that is homemade, a culture that begins at home. Ethnographic, anthropologic, Deller, as his work Folk Archive suggests, is the British art world's folk historian. The show, called Joy in People, is just that. In this great and green land, these people are his pride and glory.
Jeremy Deller: Joy in People is at Hayward Gallery until 13 May.