As English as it gets
London-based artist Jeremy Deller is known for his film, video, installation works, community projects and public sculptures that shed light on the diversity of British society and its socio-cultural history. His work has been acclaimed, and he has won the Turner Prize (2004) for his innovative visual art.
Catch a glimpse of the artist’s oeuvre, which involves music and engages numerous collaborators by watching the film, English Magic, at the Mumbai Art Room, today.
The film was made on the occasion of the 2013 Venice Biennale, and it looks at various facets of British culture and the many contradictions. The focus is on how the country is still trying to come to terms with its colonial past, how it still lives in an era where the class system abounds, there is disparity between rich and poor and a lingering reverence for royalty. It highlights Britain’s people, icons, myths and folklore and events from the past, present and perceived future.
Speaking about the film, Susan Hapgood, director of Mumbai Art Room, says, “It is a mesmeric 15-minute work that I first saw at the Venice Biennale this summer. I immediately knew it would be great in Mumbai on so many levels — as a fantastic contemporary video, as a send-up of English culture that would resonate with the former ‘jewel in the crown’ and as inspiration. I immediately initiated inquiries about bringing it here for an exhibition.”
Hapgood emphasises that the film carries strong messages such as love for music of a diverse population, criticism of social hierarchies, arrogance and greed. She reveals that it also spoofs particular aspects of British culture such as Stonehenge, royalty and religion adding that the visual and aural experience is packed with symbolism about a society that has impacted Mumbai in a big way.
Deller’s other works were part of the travelling Homelands exhibition presented earlier this year at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum. “Whereas that was a large group exhibition, this is a small but tightly focussed presentation, continuous and ongoing at this fairly new NGO space,” explains Hapgood.
Opening Today, 6 pm to 9 pm
At Mumbai Art Room, Pipewala Building, opposite Navy Children School, Fourth Pasta Lane, Colaba.
English Magic will run steadily on a loop throughout the day, Tuesday to Thursday, until November 23 (11 am to 7 pm).