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October 6 2008 2 06 /10 /October /2008 19:12

There's been recent discussions about the sensitive frontier between art and popular culture concerning Tom Friedman works. Jeremy Deller gives us an answer with his exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, "From a revolution to another" (September 26th, 2008 - January 4th, 2009)

He's decided to abolish every boundary defining artists and craftsmen, art and art brut, high and low culture and to assume his role as a free curator. No constraints here for his giant installation of Folk Archives, merely British with some French and Russian stuffs. The exhibition is dense and hard to understand for both specialists and beginners, kind of a wished upon art democracy. Democracy can be shown through the display: as certified an artist as Scott King is, he receives the same treatment as anonymous creators. Values and judgments are weakened and one major lesson emerges: Jeremy Deller is a great artist. He is brilliant, particularly when he deals with collectivities and high scale ensemble projects. He is a talented curator, a real conductor.

What's most surprising in this exhibition is the Deller's proposition to dive into an unfamiliar reality. We are not talking about Uncanny (psychoanalytic slapstick) but "From a revolution to another" allows us to immerse into a slipping everyday routine. A kind of hyperreality is created which alludes to Dump, a work from "Superdome", Palais de Tokyo's most recent exhibition. Christoph Büchel's Dump was an ascent in an abyss. A door opened to an evil place above the Earth, a reverse paradise lost, a feeling that everything that was buried and hidden suddenly reappeared. In front of thousands of everyday objects we'd rather ignore, Büchel offered a hyperreality opened on a blurred and disconcerting existence. The two wills are similar and want to show an existing reality that we are not fully conscious of, an escaping space which shouts at us: simply two works of art.


Jeremy Deller and Christoph Büchel share a common rock passion and a highly social and political consciousness. Deller won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2005 with Battle of Orgreave, a vivid reconstruction of a battle between miners and police in the mid-1980s miners strike. Büchel excited the art world with the demoniac installation (all interpretations allowed) Simply Botiful at Hauser & Wirth, London. It is incompressible and indivisible but we can try to cut off a significant example: a set of copies of Mein Kampf (Hitler, 1923) translated into Arabic, among a pile of prayer mats woven with motifs celebrating the events of 9/11. Well, a pretty thoughtless and carefree environment.... This set incarnates absolute Evil and deals with Israeli and Arabs conflict, international events in Middle East but it also reminds that the first translation of the book dates back to early 1930s, and that the first French editor, Fernand Sorlot, compared, in his Advertising, its influence on people to...the Koran.

This set of copies has been sold at the Frieze Art Fair 2006 edition by Hauser & Wirth Gallery. Quickly sold, quickly removed. Afraid of eventual retaliations? Absolutely not! People were stealing the books. When reality becomes stranger and frightener than fiction.... "Why would anyone want to walk around an art fair with a copy of Mein Kampf ?" questioned the dealer Iwan Wirth. Probably people who wished to take apart a piece of "fantastic" reality, happy to access the hyperreality art had created. As fascinating as Clare Family's mechanical elephant, as hard-hitting as Ed Hall's Anti Nazi League banner fluttering on Palais de Tokyo's ceiling.

[Photo : vue d'exposition Carte Blanche à Jeremy Deller - Folk archive, Ed Hall, 2008. Photo : Marc Domage]

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