Joy in People, Jeremy Deller’s mid-career survey at the Hayward, displays a wide array of installations, photographs, videos, posters, banners, performance works and sound pieces. But throughout this diverse output, one thing remains fairly constant: people. Visitors can expect to find joy in people, but also anger, pain, history, humour, politics, fanaticism, reason and a host of other conflicting components that make us who we are.
By curating events, collecting memories and charting journeys, Deller presents subjects ranging from Acid House to the Iraq War. His works engage with the lives, the views and the cultures of people and – even if you weren’t personally affected by the Miner’s Strikes or the Manic Street Preachers – you can’t help but be touched and absorbed by Deller’s works on both.
The exhibition is a portrait of different societies and events in recent history, but is not just a static representation of them. The visitor has to get stuck in – watch videos, read books, explore objects. There’s even a café serving free tea and a discussion area besides the remnants of a bombed car from Iraq. It’s this participation that allows you to connect with the subjects and makes the show so thought-provoking.
One of the final works in the show contains no people and no obvious reference to them. It is a 3D video of millions of swarming bats, originally a scene from his Turner Prize winning film, The Memory Bucket. At first it seems out of place with the rest of the show, but, as the gasps and coos start coming from the audience, you start to think that maybe joy in people can be found in the bespectacled visitors sitting around you.
Jeremy Deller: Joy in People
Until May 13 2012
£8 – £10 – tickets available here