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
so it was about time somebody attacked the subject. Yet Deller, who won
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, includingthe World Gurning Championships, and a festival of
insults and horse skulls in South Wales, called Mari Lwyd.
The work ranges from an evil scarecrow that resembles Michael Jackson,
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 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
ephemera of modern life create an image of a country's psyche?
What are the stories floating behind the glimpses of protest, anger, chaos
Most importantly, how do these objects and images explain the motivation
In fact, what makes this collection of photographs, videos and weird
stuff so interesting is wondering why they exist at all.