Peter De Potter on Jamie Reid

Exclusive: the Belgian artist on re-imagining the visual language of Jamie Reid for Fred Perry

Today Fred Perry announce their new Blank Canvas collection in collaboration with iconic British artist, Jamie Reid. And whilst Fred Perry are a brand with roots so strongly entwined in British youth codes and Reid an artist who sits firmly within a tradition of English radical dissent, there could not be a better match for the brand’s ongoing Blank Canvas project.

The collection consists of three shirts each featuring a different design based on Reid’s original artwork, available in Laurel Wreath collection stores this April and to celebrate the launch, Fred Perry have teamed up with Belgian artist Peter De Potter. Intending to “re-imagine” Jamie for this project, Peter has created a series of unique concept videos and GIFs, released exclusively on Dazed Digital, ahead of their launch at Dover Street Market this Friday. We interviewed Peter on internet trolling and his visual exploration of the internet’s youth for the November issue of Dazed, but this time around we spoke to him about his connection to Jamie Reid's youth dialogue and how exactly he went about “re-imagining” the influential artist.

Dazed Digital: When did you first encounter Jamie Reid's work? 

Peter De Potter: The Sex Pistols artwork – like everyone else I guess. From then on his work has become part of pop culture – the good version of pop culture I mean. I’m convinced that all these iconic works are still revered today simply because they were very, very good, not because they remind people of punk.

DD: What initially drew you to it? 

Peter De Potter: I can never say why something or someone strikes a chord with me. But Jamie Reid is not a ‘style’ like some people seem to assume. It’s not ‘really punk’ or ‘typical of its time’ – not at all.  There’s so much more to it. It’s art, not graphic design. It’s the work of a man speaking his mind, not of someone catering to an entertainment industry.

DD: How did you go about ‘re-imagining Jamie’ for this project?

Peter De Potter: ‘Re-imagining’ is a big thing for me at the moment. I’m really exploring it in my own work now. For this project ‘re-imagining’ does not mean ‘re-working’ or ‘updating’. It’s more an evocation of some psychological/emotional state. The films are steeped in a mood of both agitation and spiritual calmness, two elements that are very present in Jamie’s as well as my own work- in a very different way, but still.  So I used everything at hand to achieve that dual feeling – the films are a mix of appropriated archive material, new collages made from screenshots, filmed footage from a shoot I did especially for this project and some direct lifts from Jamie’s work. It’s all carefully pieced together –and it has a deliberate pieced-together look - to be viewed as a whole. The two videos are constructed as triptychs – never forget I’m Belgian. Viewed as such there’s this slight sense of overload and conflicting moods.

DD: How do you think your unique dialogue with the virtual world compares to Jamie’s dialogue with youth and activism in a pre-internet era?

Peter De Potter: I guess there’s not really a difference. If he would be doing his Suburban Press magazine today for instance, he more than likely would be doing it on the internet, in a very direct way. And if anyone would label my virtual output as some kind of situationist act, I wouldn’t disagree either. Although we have different methods and different incentives, I think that both of us think that art should be communicated.

DD: How did it feel to be able to access and radically re-work Jamie’s private videos?

Peter De Potter: That was cool, they were mostly videos from Jamie’s exhibitions – ‘Screamadelica’ was playing at one of those by the way. Also some footage of him working on some large pieces in his studio and of him demonstrating the different elements in his OVA-sign. The latter I used unedited, as it was (well, I put it in black and white). The rest of the footage is very much cut-up, very selectively.

DD: Do you have a favourite Jamie Reid work or moment? 

Peter De Potter: I really like his proudly naked angel throwing a Molotov cocktail at a planet Earth made of money bills. It’s on the cover of a nineties album by The Almighty. I wish I had come up with that one. It’s provocative but in an intelligent way. And it’s sensual but in a bit of a brutal way. Very good.