Jeremy Deller: Sacrilege
- Neil Cooper
- 25 April 2012
Stonehenge reimagined as a bouncy castle celebrates creative power of play
If you’re feeling down in the dumps, there are few things more rejuvenating than jumping up and down like an idiot for a few minutes. If you can do so without bursting out laughing like an even bigger loon, chances are you’re dead.
As a child of the rave age, Jeremy Deller is in a perfect position to tap into such variations on a natural high, repetitive beats and all. By reimagining Stonehenge as a bouncy castle type structure that will later be inflated in London during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Deller is also making an explicitly political point, both about the right to assemble and how religious and artistic totems have become untouchable.
With the real Stonehenge once a Mecca of the free festival movement and now cordoned off to all but the hardiest of revellers, to witness big daft kids of all ages hurling themselves around and about the structures with touchy-feely abandon on a sunny Sunday afternoon is a subversive delight. Taking your shoes off and joining in is even better in a work that might well be descended from theatre director Joan Littlewood’s original idea to create a fun palace on London’s South Bank where Deller’s magnificent retrospective, ‘Joy in People’, is currently in residence at the Hayward Gallery.
Just as rave culture democratised the dance-floor, Sacrilege is a spectacle of people power in action that has the mass appeal of Billy Smart’s Circus and the political and conceptual sophistication of Bakunin. Ultimately, Deller is both enabling and revelling in the creative power of play, and that, rather than fear or stifle that that power as authoritarian regimes tend to do, it should be celebrated in excelsis. If such a living monument was in permanent residence, similarly-minded children of the stones could be jumping for joy forevermore.
Glasgow Green, until Mon 7 May