Brian Eno nominated the conceptual, video and installation artist Jeremy Deller: 

Jeremy Deller's work surprises me at so many levels. It expands the idea of what an artist does, of what Art could be, and what it could be for.

In THE BATTLE OF ORGREAVE, for example, Deller instigated a process a bit similar to the social theatre experiments of Augusto Boal, where people theatrically recreate situations in which they're involved in order to try to understand them differently. A number of ex-miners and ex-policemen who'd been at the original confrontation at the Orgreave pit in 1984 reassembled and played out the day again. They were joined by a large group of historical re-enactors, and the result was filmed by Mike Figgis. It was revelatory. Is this Art? Theatre? Therapy? Politics? Education? History? I like the fact that it easily straddles all of those things, and that Deller's own role is equally ambiguous. 

I would like Art to be one of the ways we come to feel empathy for each other and understand each other better, and this art holds the promise of that.

In ACID BRASS Deller worked with a traditional brass band, but asked them to play Detroit techno, creating an stunning concert and, as a spinoff, a new form of music. Again, the element of social engagement by a community of people was critical, and the bonds formed through that are part of the payoff of the work. I like the fact that these social dimensions are the fundamental material of the work. Instead of using art as propaganda for community action, Deller makes Art out of community action. As we see our country threatening to fragment, that's a very important idea. I would like Art to be one of the ways we come to feel empathy for each other and understand each other better, and this art holds the promise of that.

Deller’s work is often technically very ambitious, involving organising large groups of volunteers and helpers, but he himself is almost invisible in the end result. I’m inspired by this quietly subversive way of being an artist, setting up situations and then letting them play out. To me it’s a form of social generative art where the ‘generators’ are people and their experiences, and where the role of the artist is to create a context within which they collide and create. 

Jeremy Deller and his work:

Photo credits: Iggy Pop Life Class image courtesy of Elena Olivo/Brooklyn Museum, Fantastic Man cover by Alasdair McLellan

 

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