Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller (1966, London, UK) has a powerful ability to connect the past and the present through the juxtaposition of imagery, objects, and music of all kinds with an uncommon levity. As a city grounded in its industrial and working class cultural identity, and with a strong relationship to the founding of Rock and Roll, Cleveland and its people resonate with many of Deller’s core interests.
Jeremy Deller: Video Works brings together three iconic videos by Deller in a single looping program. Deller’s newest video work, Bom Bom’s Dream, is a collaboration with Argentinian performance artist Cecilia Bengolea. For nine months of the year ‘Bom Bom’ is a children’s book illustrator in Japan, but for the other three she is a professional dancer and lives in Jamaica. As a larger-than-life Chameleon narrates her journey through a surreal Jamaican dream-scape, Bom Bom takes us inside the complex and vibrant relationships between contemporary music and dance in Jamaican culture.
English Magic (2013) explores British culture and history with an intertwining soundtrack of iconic British songs such as David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World played by a South London steel drum band and juxtaposed against imagery of mythic English heritage sites like Stonehenge, and later, crushed car sculptures of the country’s storied auto brand Land Rover.
Promotional Film for All that is Solid Melts into Air similarly pairs a range of musical styles — from British heavy metal to electronica — with archival film footage of a British steel foundry, a textile factory, and home videos of local cultural events exploring how British society has been shaped by the rise and decline of industry. The film takes its name from a text by Marxist American philosopher Marshall Berman’s 1982 book that charts the conflicting relationship between Modernism and the modernization of labor. Throughout the film individuals read a variety of texts including poems, personal letters, philosophical texts, and song lyrics that explore social and economic changes in the last two centuries.
Together, these three videos offer playful and captivating insights into the intertwined relationships between industrial and societal changes throughout the last two centuries. English Magic, Promotional Film for All that is Solid Melts into Air, and Bom Bom’s Dream bring Deller’s penchant for treating the expectedly mundane as occasions for serendipitous intervention.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website