for immediate use
Centre for Visual Arts invites
Jeremy Deller to curate as part of second season
The worlds of art and pop music unite for an extraordinary exhibition at Cardiff’s Centre for Visual Arts in November. Unconvention, which includes famous twentieth century artworks, is inspired by the interests of popular Welsh band The Manic Street Preachers. It brings together artists, war photographers, poets, musicians, political activists and social organisations who have influenced and been referenced by the band.
Artworks by Picasso, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, Martin Kippenberger, Jenny Saville, Francis Bacon, Lawrence Weiner and Andy Warhol are amongst those that have been loaned by major international galleries. Many works are seen in Wales for the first time.
Other parts of the show include photographs by Robert Capa, Kevin Carter, work by the Situationists, posters and artefacts from the Spanish Civil War, and contrasting views of Vietnam by Don McCullin and from the official US army’s collection. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of talks from politicans, poets, music critics and historians.
A special opening weekend of free events in the gallery takes place on 20 and 21 November. Organisations such as Amnesty International, The Welsh Language Society, Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall, Spillers Records and Manic’s Fanzines will be there representing an international and local perspective on the show. On Saturday 20 November, the one hundred-strong Pendyrus Male Choir give a special concert inspired by the Welsh coal and iron industry, and miners’ participation in the Spanish Civil War.
The exhibition is the idea of artist, Jeremy Deller, who has been invited by the Centre for Visual Arts to put the show together. He is interested in the relationship between fine art, folk art and popular culture and the very personal reasons why people like particular artists and are drawn to the visual arts. The Manic Street Preachers have inspired a huge number of fans to discover artists, writers and social and historical movements through their lyrics, interviews and album covers.
Bruce Haines, Exhibition Organiser at the Centre for Visual Arts, explained “Teenagers and people who don’t usually visit galleries will have as much expertise about Unconvention as regular gallery visitors. The exhibition is as much about the people who attend and what they share from it, as about what is on display”.
The Centre for Visual Arts opened on Saturday 4 September. It is the largest gallery in Wales for changing exhibitions of new and historical art and the UK’s first, hands-on, interactive gallery for children. Unconvention takes place at the Centre for Visual Arts, Working Street, The Hayes, Cardiff from 20 November 1999 to 16 January 2000. The free opening weekend events take place in the Centre’s Street Level Gallery on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 November. For more information call the Centre for Visual Arts on (029 20) 39 40 40.
Unconvention by Jeremy Deller
Street Level Gallery, Centre for Visual Arts, Cardiff
20 November 1999 – 16 January 2000
Description of the exhibition
Unconvention is an exhibition of paintings, photographs and artefacts inspired by the interests of the Manic Street Preachers, the internationally acclaimed Welsh band. It takes major modern art works out of the museum, re-uniting them with the radical political movements of their day.
Unconvention is curated by Jeremy Deller, a London-based artist whose projects have often made surprising and enlightening relationships between areas of culture normally thought of as incompatible. Some of his work has been concerned with the modern phenomenon of celebrity. His earlier work around the Manic Street Preachers, The Uses of Literacy (1997) assembled powerful artworks and writings by fans of the band. It highlighted the intense relationship between icon and fan.
The Manics have referred to many modern artists and art movements in their lyrics, album art, interviews and dress sense, from Edvard Munch to Martin Kippenberger. This has created a teenage audience for ideas beyond the scope of formal education. Unconvention brings together important examples of work by Munch, Picasso, Bacon, Pollock, de Kooning, Warhol, Situationist International, Weiner, Kippenberger and Saville drawn together through a concern with self portraiture, celebrity, suffering, war, love and political revolt.
By drawing on the references of pop stars with en extensive and self-taught knowledge of modern art, the exhibition places artworks outside normal gallery frameworks. Documentary photography by Capa, Carter, McCullin and Namuth link paintings to a historical and political context that includes South Wales mining communities, eastern Africa, the Spanish Civil War and Vietnam war. A section dedicated to the Situationist International provides a bridge between Asger Jorn, the Paris student uprisings of May ‘68 and the Sex Pistols.
One over-arching theme of the exhibition is the analogous relationship between aesthetic and political revolt, a relationship epitomised in the Manics’ image: their dress sense has combined cosmetics and political slogans. Their political beliefs stem from their upbringing in the working class Welsh Valleys, while their make-up and effeminate clothing marked them out in what was a tough, conformist community.
The exhibition opens with a lively weekend of free live events. Like the annual Eisteddfod (the celebration of Welsh arts and culture) or a Freshers’ Fayre, various organisations will run information stalls. The range of organisations represent both the band’s concerns and Wales’s local and international perspective. They include Amnesty International, Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall, the Welsh Language Society, Spillers Record Shop, Gwent Tertiary College, Reclaim Our Rights, the Samaritans and Manic Street Preachers’ fanzines. On Saturday evening the hundred-strong Pendyrus Male Choir will give a special concert of music chronicling the experience of the Welsh mining community and the miners’ participation in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.
The spirit of the weekend will continue for the duration of the show with the participating groups’ literature on display, a slide carousel documenting the event and a series of talks and live events including talks by Emyr Lewis, Bard of the Eisteddfod; Arthur Scargill, leader of the National Union of Mineworkers; Jeremy Deller and Amnesty International.
Unconvention: List of Artists
The International Brigade
Willem de Kooning
United States Army Archive
Blaengarw Workmens Hall - Typical of the Welfare Halls that were set up by donations from miners themselves, Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall was a focus for a whole range of community activities during the height of the coal industry. Many fell into disrepair after the coal industry’s decline. Now refurbished, the Workmen’s Hall is a central feature of the communities that survive in ex-mining valley towns
Book Works – An arts publishing organisation re-positioning the book within contemporary art practice through special projects with artists and curators. Book Works published Jeremy Deller’s book The Uses of Literacy in 1998 as a special commission by guest curator Matthew Higgs
Campaign against the Arms Trade
The National Eisteddfod – the annual Welsh festival gathers together a range of different organisations and acts as a meeting point for different communities and a platform for artistic expression
Grassroots City Centre Youth Project – Cardiff city centre cultural organisation providing support and facilities to young, unemployed & homeless people
Gwent Tertiary College – Attended by all four members of the Manics
Inventory – London based artist run publishing group
Liberty – Campaigners for the freedom of the wrongly convicted
Manic Street Preachers Fanzines
Pendyrus Male Choir – Wales’s largest male choir
Reclaim Our Rights – Organisation with the objective to repeal anti-trade union laws; to secure new laws to look after the rights of workers and unions to draw up their own constitutions; to support workers and unions threatened or penalised by anti-trade union laws
South Wales Miners’ Library & Coalfield Collection – Archive collection providing insight into social, economic and cultural history of South Wales during late nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Spillers Record Shop – The oldest independent record store in the UK, the Cardiff store has been frequented by the Manic Street Preachers since their youth
Welsh Language Society / Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg – organisation dedicated to the preservation of Welsh language and implementation of language policies in Wales based organisations
Free Weekend Opening Event Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 November in the Street Level Gallery
A special opening weekend of activities takes place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 November when local and international organisations run stalls in the gallery. Groups including Amnesty International, The Samaritans, The Welsh Language Society, National Eisteddfod, Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall, Gwent Tertiary College, Manic Street Preachers fanzines, Spillers Records and many others contribute to the different themes in Unconvention.
How did they do it? Thursday 25 November 7.00pm until 7.45pm
A chance to meet artist and curator of Unconvention,
Jeremy Deller, as he takes us on a walking tour of the exhibition.
Poetry in motion Thursday 2 December 7.00pm until 7.45pm
Emyr Lewis, chaired and crowned Bard of the Eisteddfod, gives a special reading of his own work and that of other Welsh poets
, addressing some of the themes in Unconvention
as reflected in the Welsh poetic tradition. This will be in Welsh and English.
International Human Rights Day Friday 10 December 1.00pm until 1.45pm
Dan Jones, Head of Education at Amnesty International UK discusses Human Rights issues for the 21st
Century illustrated with his own drawings.
Live Performance Thursday 13 January 1.00pm
Gwent Tertiary College, Performing Arts students give their rock-opera response to Unconvention’s
themes of war, politics, suffering, love and revolution
Talk by Arthur Scargill
date and time to be confirmed
Biography: Jeremy Deller
Jeremy Deller is a London born and based artist. He studied Baroque art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. In 1997 he organised a show of art-work by fans of the Manic Street Preachers entitled The Uses of Literacy
which was included in the National Touring Exhibition Voice Over
, 1997-8 and has since been made into a book published by Book Works.
Other projects included The Search for Bez,
1994 and Acid Brass
, a live art event originally commissioned by Bluecoat, Liverpool in which traditional brass bands play Acid House music.
In addition to Unconvention
, this Autumn sees the publishing of a book of Deller’s collected work titled Life Is To Blame For Everything
. He is currently collaborating with the artist Alan Kane on Folk Archive
, a survey show of contemporary and traditional Folk Art.
Jeremy Deller on Unconvention
“Unconvention is an exhibition that examines revolution as both a political and personal act”
Jeremy Deller quotes Che Guevara, a key influence on his motivations for organising Unconvention “A true revolutionary is motivated by great feelings of Love”