Jeremy Deller
The Uses of Literacy

 
jeremy-deller-manic.jpg
Jeremy Deller.co.uk

JEREMY DELLER

Details of publication:
Title of work: 'The Uses of Literacy'
Publisher: Book Works
Print method: Off-set lithography
Binding: Stapled single section with holographic cover


Creative environment:
Despite repeated attempts to contact, photograph and interview the artist, he remained elusive.
As a result, no studio visit was achieved. Background and description of the publication:

Jeremy Deller is an English artist and curator based in London. He cites the two most important
social phenomena of the last 15 years as the miner's strike of 1984/85 and the advent of acid
house. In 1997 he fused the two cultural events together to form Acid Brass, resulting in live
performances and the release of a CD in 1998.

The Manic Street Preachers are a band who have always stressed the importance of their cultural and artistic influences.
Indeed they indulge their creative passions by encouraging their fans to explore art and literature for themselves.
They offer quotations and artistic references on their CD covers, merchandising and during live shows.
This pro-active stance invites the audience to look beyond the trappings of pop stardom and discover
something for themselves through their idols.

Jeremy Deller's work, 'The Uses of Literacy' , refers to the seminal publication of the same name by
Richard Hoggart which studies the attitudes and morals of working-class people in the North of England and the
possible influences that the mass media is likely to have upon them. Deller's work began as an invitation to
fans to contribute to an exhibition of their work about the Manics. It has since developed into a publication, exhibition and the
event Unconvention which took place in Cardiff in November 1999. Unconvention involved an exhibition of works which have
directly influenced the Manics (including Warhol, Picasso and Pollock), a convention-style information section highlighting
their political influences and a series of readings, discussions and performances by artists in response to those influences.
It became apparent at these events that a wider audience was drawn to the same issues, thereby creating a cyclic
perpetuation of cultural reference.

The book itself is designed along the lines of a fanzine, while its quality of production lends it a more lasting feel.
It contains the drawings, writings and physical artifacts of Manics fans, housed within a spangled holographic cover
bearing the titles of the band's songs. Letters to the artist are mixed with poetry, visual interpretations of songs
interviews with fans, portraits of the band and photographs of the fans' environments.

The centre spread reveals the band's collected literary influences, represented by Donna Marshall's
shelf of well worn book-spines. Many of the books are assessments of
society and its affect on the individual within its strictures.

They echo the adolescent search for identity and a sense of place and ownership.
This search is encapsulated by the sticker attached to one of the fan's letters on page eight:
"I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing".
The Uses of Literacy' gives a sensitive insight into adoration and introspection.

Analysis of production and creative environment:


All information on the artist was supplied in the form of previous pamphlet publications and press
releases from the artist's publisher. The consistant qualities of the artist's professional practice appeared to be a
desire to work with and in public spaces, to be an organiser of events while recording these events through
the work made at the time and visual documentation in the form of publications or musical recordings.

This is borne out by the publication entered for this project. It is an edited record over a period of time and events
in the form of a fanzine. The major influence on the look and feel of the book appear to have come from the publisher.
They produced a highly printed and professionally presented product which contrasts the qualities of an
underground publication in that the majority of fanzines have their creative roots based in photocopier and lateral staple binding.
The reason for the increase in quality of production lies in the intended audience. It was not only aimed at fans of the
Manic Street Preachers but also at the general public and collectors of the publishers oeuvre.
The result is a clear compromise, through production method, of form and content which benefits the artist, those
represented in the book, the potential audience and the publisher.

 


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