Jeremy Deller returns to the street…
a new poster with flyingleaps
Every age (has its own fascism) (2019)
Every age (has its own fascism) (2019) is Jeremy Deller’s second artists’ poster print for flyingleaps. It’s another excoriating critique of the self-serving, mealy-mouthed politics we’re currently being subjected to. The original Primo Levi quote continues… ‘There are many ways of reaching this point, and not just through the terror of police intimidation, but by denying and distorting information, by undermining systems of justice, by paralyzing the education system, and by spreading in a myriad subtle ways nostalgia for a world where order reigned.’
This is where we’re at right now. The UK mired in a chaos stoked by neoliberal myopia, right wing greed and xenophobia; a chaos massaged by mainstream media at the service of elites who couldn’t give a toss about creating a fairer society. Rather, wearing a velvet glove of deceitful, manipulative populism, an authoritarian and bigoted iron fist is being wielded at the centre of power and that, as we’ve seen, gives licence to narrowmindedness, boorish thuggery and worse across the country.
Deller’s works are always provocative, often witty, poetically entrancing and not afraid of offending, confronting the iniquities of power. But the Every age… poster chimes with another quality often present in his work. That is where a seemingly straightforward explication is also a heartrending fuck-have-we-really-come-to-this lament. Where profit beats people and livelihoods; where the country and the poorest are royally buggered to favour mainly the few; where systemic social neglect, political cruelty and individual hubris have moved from the wings to centre stage such that a warning against fascism needs to be plastered throughout the UK.
We are pleased to announce flyingleaps’ collaboration with Jill Laudet.
Public Treasure (2019)
Laudet is an artist and educator whose practice examines the material and social fabric that constitutes the ‘commons’: those ideas and resources that affect the whole of a community. Against a backdrop of rising right-wing populism, racism, xenophobia and post-crash poverty – phenomena propelling ever widening division – Laudet’s work highlights positive human qualities such as creativity, critical thinking, cooperation, collaboration and repair.
In various ways Laudet’s choice of media subtly amplify themes she’s exploring. Her Small Acts of Repair (2015) enact the inventiveness, perseverance and imagination attendant on principled resistance to consumerism. Silhouette drawings of council estate plans using salt suggest the precarity of social housing while those made using gold leaf remind us what a valuable asset ‘decent homes for all’ is to society.
Her textile series Reclaim the Public Treasure (2018) comprised twelve bold, ‘cheap ‘n’ cheerful’ pattern prints overlaid with affective texts in appliquéd lettering that bring to mind union banners: those strong visual standards synonymous with gathering together and the promotion of collective action against injustice.
Public Treasure (2019), Laudet’s work for flyingleaps, re-presents one of her banners as a street poster. It’s informed by 1647 calls to action as part of what became known as the revolutionary Putney Debates. It’s also a work that begs the question ‘What do the Public Treasure’? At the same time it’s an exhortation to value not just material resources but also the skills, qualities and kindnesses of our fellow humans. Without which we’re truly lost.
Toxic People (2019) Magda Archer
Magda Archer’s ‘Toxic People’ (2019). Hot on the heels of her extremely popular Problems With Modern Life exhibition at Firstsite Gallery, Colchester another of the artist’s arch and appealing works gets the flyingleaps treatment.
The profound disquiet, wavering sense of purpose and erosion of constructive potential bought on by rampant consumerism, social media saturation and political toxicity is Archer’s stock-in-trade here.
Populism (2019) Mark Fishlock
Tim Fishlock (FKA Oddly Head) has delivered another deceptively economic grey grape block colour beauty in Populism (2019). The capitalised white text with its black shadow, in a way, couldn’t be more accurately prosaic. Populism is ‘all the rage’, i.e., ‘very popular at this time’! There’s no denying it. Simples.
Cyprus Realism (Grape 6) (2019)
Lastly (but never least) Mustafa Hulusi has released another of his sublime artworks. Cyprus Realism (Grape 6) (2019) began life as a stunningly luminous photograph of a pendulous bunch of ripe, sunlit grapes. Here its reproduction as a painting might at first strike viewers as an Edenic gesture, a diversion from the harsh realities of an occupied territory.
Dr. D aka Subvertiser
While the debate goes on as to whether flyposted and other oppositional art or visual activism has any direct effect in bringing about sociopolitical change, what it can do at its best is feed into the publics’ disposition.
Through strong imagery, cogent or quizzical text, humour, relatively speedy production and distribution, via its capacity to occupy anomalous spaces in the urban environment and through an imaginative, enacted engagement with matters of concern it can generate social media interest and help inform, even propel, opinion.
Dr. D’s targets include surveillance culture; the social effects of neoliberalism; commodification; mealy-mouthed and uncaring politicians; abuses of power in the media… Much more than bald sloganeering Dr. D’s imagery and text pieces often emerge, on reflection, as enigmatic meditations on twenty-first century existential angst.
Transgressing boundaries can reveal hidden rules. One could cite the precedents of the carnivalesque ‘telling truth to power’, vaudevillian comedy, Dada gestures in art but all of these, in a – it’s only a bunch of pucks/entertainers/artists – sense, operated in ‘sanctioned’ arenas. Dr. D’s contributions to the urban environment are rarely sanctioned and it’s this that contributes significantly to their traction and incisiveness.
The urban spectacle would have us believe that its over-riding character is, yes aspirational, but emphatically neutral and apolitical: that generally we’re going to be just fine if we carry on pretty much as we are. Dr. D’s pithy interventions, highlighting so many germane issues and employing such a variety of modes of address, repeatedly suggest otherwise.