BBC Home

Explore the BBC


30th October 2014
Accessibility help
Text only

BBC Homepage

Contact Us


Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 
features /  feature
editor content by: editor
jeremy deller interview
jeremy deller interview
watch 

watch jeremy deller's guided tour of the folk archive:

listen to 
real player to access audio and video on collective you need real player.
Artists Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane redefine folk art.

Artists Alan Kane and Jeremy Deller took seven years to create the Folk Archive. The show was conceived out of love for popular art and abhorrence for the meaninglessness of the Millennium Dome. The last retrospective of British folk art took place at the Whitechapel in 1951, so it was about time somebody attacked the subject. Yet Deller, who won the Turner Prize last year, and Kane’s approach is surprising. There is very little folk art in the traditional sense of handmade DIY “outsider art”.

Deller and Kane capture the strangeness of contemporary life. Among the 250 works are the detritus of political protests, car rallies, crop circles, clowns and office life. There are photos and footage of strange festivals and competitions where life becomes performance art, including the World Gurning Championships, and a festival of insults and horse skulls in South Wales, called Mari Lwyd.


Jeremy Deller and Ambulance Pincushion.

The work ranges from an evil scarecrow that resembles Michael Jackson, complete with gloves, to a penis made of burrs. Sometimes the political element is obvious, as in Ed Hall’s colour-filled banners from protest marches. At other times the rebellion and dissent is not so clear-cut, but there is a sense of something anarchic in all the work. The choices may be personal to the artists but their resonance is universal.

The Folk Archive raises absorbing questions about British-ness. How do the strange events and visual ephemera of modern life create an image of a country’s psyche? What are the stories floating behind the glimpses of protest, anger, chaos and fun? Most importantly, how do these objects and images explain the motivation behind creativity? In fact, what makes this collection of photographs, videos and weird stuff so interesting is wondering why they exist at all.


Francesca Gavin 13 May 05
Folk Archive: Contemporary Popular Art From The UK is at the Barbican, London, until 24 July 05. It then tours the UK. See barbican.org.uk for details.
 conversations
Read members' comments.
  Trad events as art
4 comments | last comment Jul 18, 2005

related info
note: The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
see also
jeremy deller
turner prize 04

100 artists see god feature

shhh...
feature

outsider art
online

on bbc newson bbc newson front row
books

books and comics archive
Author interviews and reviews from 2002 to 2008.
games
games
games archive
Gaming features and weekly columns from 2002 to 2008.
bbc news - technology
news technology


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy