Jeremy Deller joins forces with Warp to curate Dazed Visionaries this week, coinciding with the upcoming Warp x Tate night of performance and installations at the Tate Britain. Groundbreaking Warp artists like patten, Hudson Mohawke and Rustie have reinterpreted Deller's iconic work, The History of the World, which draws the lines between acid house, brass bands, British rave's summer of love and everything in between – and Dazed Visionaries has an exclusive look at the results, alongside a very intimate look at Deller's own memories of rave via his personal archives. Watch this week's Visionaries films here.
Deller speaks with and Dazed and electronic pioneer patten about the influence of rave, nostalgia and why dance music can still be subversive.
Dazed Digital: You’ve both incorporated elements of acid house and dance music in your work. What was your first exposure to dance?
Jeremy Deller: "I Feel Love", 1977. After that, soul music in the mid 80s and electro, which I loved. I then took a badly-timed break around '87 for a few years to get into heavy metal. By 1990, I was ready for something else so early rave and "pop house" (as I call it). I got into it and went out a lot – not to big parties and raves, smaller things. The big raves always scared me a bit, to be honest.
“Drugs and dancing and mass gatherings are always going to be a problem" - Jeremy Deller
patten: Weeks after being conceived – slowly coming into being in the womb. 80-85bpm. Before much else was experienced at all.
DD: It feels like people are increasingly looking back to a ‘golden age’ of dance culture (see: the revival of garage). What role does nostalgia play in your work?
patten: I'm not certain there's a definitive increase in the backwards glance at all. Folk musics and popular cultural mechanisms have always functioned in part by excavating elements of older, passed-on tradition and reformatting them into living, breathing tools of the present.That's how language of all sorts moves. If anything, the reassessment of historical form potentially challenges this stasis and as such, reconsiders history.
Jeremy Deller: It was a nostalgia for the very near past, for an early manifestation of digital culture.
DD: Live performance plays a big role in both your works. What does the 'live' aspect add to your work?
Jeremy Deller: Brass band music is live music, primarily. It’s not complete until it’s performed and tested live.
patten: Live performance is entirely integral to the development of potentials in this, and touches all aspects. Live performance and also living life in all types of other 'unframed' circumstances and situations. There is still a strong focus on the idea of transcending one's own imagination. Finding methods to enable that. All of the elements of the creative process are entwined and interconnected - a messy tangle of matrices. There's no breathing out without breathing in.
DD: Is there an the urge to control the output of these live performances? How do you mitigate that?
patten: Those tensions and chaotic characteristics are not mitigated but are instead identified, chased, amplified and explored. Woven into the fabric of this open arc in an attempt to actively pursue these aspects and dialogue with them.
Jeremy Deller: Once it starts, it starts and that’s it - I have little control over it. To be honest, I like that.
DD: How political can dance music be?
Jeremy Deller: Like anything, it can be. But drugs and dancing and mass gatherings are always going to be a problem.
patten: There is absolutely no possibility of an apolitical artefact or entity. For something to be not-political is completely, wholly impossible.
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