Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013 — Venice

A Good Day for Cyclists,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

JournalArt & Culture

Flying High

Hawks prey on capitalist excess at British art showcase...

Having been commissioned by an august institution to promote British culture to the wider world, an artist may be forgiven for playing it safe with their choice of subject matter. No such timidity from Jeremy Deller and his series of installations, English Magic, created for the British Pavilion at the 55th La Biennale di Venezia.

One can infer from Deller’s work that all is not rosy in England’s garden – but then show us a garden in which it is. However, in true British style, we are finding a way to overcome our modern adversaries and adversities. Particular criticism seems to be aimed at capitalism; two 4x4s, that symbol of excess, come a cropper – first carried off in the talons of a hawk in a huge wall mural, the other flattened by a car crusher into a bench from which you can watch the genius artist’s English Magic film, celebrating more positive aspects of the country. The tax haven of Jersey also meets fiery misfortune in Deller’s mind, and Roman Ambramovich’s extravagant yacht – viewed as something of a carbuncle when it moored at the festival two years ago – is headed for a watery grave at the hands of the resurrected William Morris.

The British Council, best known overseas for teaching Johnny Foreigner to speak the Queen’s English proper, have been taking our talents to the arts festival since 1938. At the end of the Venice run, English Magic will be returning home to London to be exhibited at the William Morris Gallery, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and the Turner Contemporary, Margate. Wales and Scotland haven’t been forgotten either; the regions are displaying their work via other organisations.

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

Jeremy Deller, English Magic,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

St Helier on Fire 2017,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

We Sit Starving Amidst our Gold,
Installation View,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

Ooh-oo-hoo ah-ha ha yeah,
installation view,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

English Magic,
Installation View,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

Tea Room,
British Pavilion, 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

Jeremy Deller, English Magic,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

Moss Side, Down Ampney, Beckenham,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

You Have The Watches We Have The Time,
Installation View,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

Bazra in my sights, By Andy,
HMP Everthorpe 2013,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte

Jeremy Deller, English Magic. British Pavilion 2013, Venice

Bevan Tried to Save the Nation,
British Pavilion 2013
Courtesy British Council.
Photograph Cristiano Corte
Jeremy Deller’s British Council commission is at
La Biennale di Venezia until 24th November
and will tour national UK venues in 2014.
www.britishcouncil.org/visualarts.

Instagram