Cabinet's ground floor passage, lit with ultra violet light
and hung each side with orange day-glo posters, felt creepy and quietly
aggressive (behind a door could dwell a religious fanatic or political
extremist silently having a rant; theorizing about conspiracies). I walked
past and pondered signs reading, "Whatever Happened to David Bowie,"
"Spike Milligan is God," "Keith Moon Matters," "Brian
Epstein Died for You," " My Mate Fancies You" and a smiley
face. "I Am Human and I Need To Be Loved, Just Like Everyone Else
Does" and "I've Seen This Happen In Other People's Lives and
Now Its Happening In Mine" were pasted to the walls, too--all quasi-religious
sayings or verses of teenage angst/mid-life crisis. Up the stairs was
a door, from which a serious back-beat filtered indicating some pretty
cool tunes. A small porcelain plaque read "Jeremy's Room" and
sure enough, through the door was Jeremy sitting on his un-made Union
Jack duvet-covered bed. Thankfully he didn't look disturbed or dangerous.
Thankfully the posters downstairs were part of his show called "At
Deller turned up the volume of his huge amp--the source of the really
cool sounds--above which, on the wall, was the instruction "Let Them
Eat Bass," and put the kettle on for a cup of tea. I settled down
to watch a slide show overlooked by a large wall painting of Ozzy Osborne:
the existentialist. First up came the title, "The Kent Archeological
Society's Monthly Dig," followed by images of people raking around
for bargains at a car boot sale. Next, came a picture of a village hall
with a sign reading "Jumbo Sale Today" and Deller's "thumbs-up"
of approval in the corner. A nice shot of a romantic landscape was next--a
picture of a scene of trees beneath towering chimneys breathing smoke
and then one of an "I love Joy Riding" sticker stuck (by Deller)
to the bumper of a police car. Images of Veterans parading at V.E. day
and of Take That fans posing outside their idols's concert venue followed.
They wore the badges of their loyalty: medals on the chests of the pensioners
and the marks of Take That's logo (like signs of blessing or baptism)
on the foreheads of the youths. Then came the Middle Class Posse and Middle
Class Hand Signals (just in case middle class people want to form middle
class gangs and thus quietly convey by hand "cups of tea," "Radio
Four," "The Antiques Road," "Single Sex Schools,"
and "Church of England"--all strongholds of British middle culture.
There was information about student life, money, time wasters, drugs,
Deller's parents' house (a semi-detached south London home, where Deller
lives and where previously he has had a show) and Robbie Williams the
bad boy of Take That wearing one of Deller's T-shirts: "My Booze
Hell" (the other T-shirt in the set reads, "My Drug Shame").
Next door, more fluorescent posters, photographs, newspaper cuttings and
press releases told of fake exhibitors, guided tours and heritage events:
"I Miss the World of Twist," "Do You Remember the First
Time," "Together 4 Ever," "Keith Moon at the Tate,"
"World of Gazza at the Museum of Mankind," "Shaun Ryder
at the Cornerhouse," "Haunted Milton Keynes," "Jack
the Ripper's Bath," and an authentic reenactment of an historical
battle (the miners versus the police in 1980s Thatcher-ite Britain).
Deller loves gossip and evidence of dubious goings on graced the walls
as well: a dinner given by singer Morrissey for comedians Vic Reeves and
Bob Mortimer, which all went horribly wrong and an affair between an extremely
well-known, aging rock star and a school girl Iranian princess that ended
in abortion (which is scary if it's true and doesn't really matter if
it's not--just one of life's fairy tales gone sour).
Back in "Jeremy's Room," Deller--temporarily leaving his parents'
house--set up home in Cabinet, complete with the comforts of TV and VCR,
his record collection encased in an old Red Cross box, a carpet, a poster
of Kate Moss, photos of a few good nights out with friends and the Union
Jack bed. The TV, a small bed-side portable, showed a recording of an
MTV show--once again the best boy-band ever (Take That, of course), professional
as always, give their best, trying to carry on while Robbie fools around,
expressing himself through paint on canvas propped upon an artist's easel.
Irony was about to leave the building.
"At Home" seemed so casual and familiar and yet so important
and different--you glanced at things you thought you recognized only to
double-take and realize their strangeness. A friendly fanatic, Deller
reversed a popular culture (and art is part of that) which is so familiar
and so shared, it can be shocking when you find that it's actually so
different. Triviality, like the phenomenon of Robbie Williams and Take
That, can be incredibly important (a joke can be deadly serious; humor,
it's been said is pretty close to terror). "At Home" moved art
and popular culture to a new residence where they set up a home together.