Carles Congost and Jeremy Deller.
Music as a Foreign Language
In this exhibition we become immersed in a two-way connection/conversation between Carles Congost and Jeremy Deller, two artists who have never met each other personally but whose work has a lot in common. Among other elements, they both talk about politics based on and through the history of dance music and club culture. Thus, two key works in their careers will be shown: Abans de la casa / Un biopic inestable a través del Sonido Sabadell [Before House / An Unstable Biopic via the Sabadell Sound], a sort of abstract documentary by Congost with contributions from personalities such as Àngel Casas and Eduard Escoffet, among others, and Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984–1992, a masterclass Deller himself taught to a group of British A-level students, featuring a vast selection of archival footage from the BBC.
On the one hand, Congost is interested in the Sabadell Sound as a symptom of an era, of a certain cultural, economic and political conjuncture. With this idea in mind, he develops a highly fragmented script that operates based on that which is symbolic, the purpose being to generate associative thinking and allow the story to be told in a different way. The film offers a subjective, poetic and, at the same time, critical look at the cultural aspirations of Catalan society during a period when the neoliberal theories imposed by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States permeated every aspect of society, culture and the economy. At one point, Congost even makes use of Jeremy Deller’s iconic and historic piece The History of the World (1997), in a nod to him and his work. Said piece is a diagram that explains the evolution of the different musical styles and trends that appear in his video, related, in Congost’s case, to Italo Disco. On the other hand, Deller carries out an analysis of social (r)evolution in the UK between 1984 and 1992, linked to the emergence and explosion of illegal raves, techno and acid house as a reaction to a set of deep fissures that emerged in British culture and society; a reaction that spread from the heart of the city to the most isolated rural areas of the country, crossing barriers of class, identity and geography. It is worth noting that these styles of music arrived in England via Ibiza as a result of trips made by DJs such as Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold, who had an epiphany when they listened to sessions by Ibiza-based Argentinian DJ Alfredo Fiorito, better known as DJ Alfredo, who incorporated these sounds into his sessions.
With these two video pieces as a starting point, the exhibition expands throughout the space with works on paper that include silkscreen prints, posters and photographs, as well as sculptural pieces and works in other formats, in some cases related to the films, but not necessarily, some corresponding to different periods of their careers and others made expressly for the exhibition. An experiential immersion intertwining both worlds and creating a single one. Both artists understand and approach their themes as if it were a spectacle on a big stage, exposing subjects that are at times difficult to deal with, through visually and aesthetically pleasing works, seemingly stripped of wickedness.
All of the songs on this playlist make reference to the exhibition in both a direct and indirect way, structuring it, acting as a unifying thread and offering clues about it.
Carles Congost (Olot, Girona, 1970) studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona. His work is characterised by the reworking of stereotypes belonging to contemporary visual culture in order to question the mechanisms and processes of creation, as well as the field of art itself, by means of video, photography, drawing and pop songs. Since the mid-1990s, he has composed and produced music under the alias The Congosound.
Congost has had solo exhibitions at MUSAC in León; at Espacio Uno/MNCARS Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and La Casa Encendida, in Madrid, and at Espai 13 of Fundació Miró, Arts Santa Mònica and Centre d’Art Contemporani Fabra i Coats, in Barcelona. He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions in both Spanish and international museums and art centres, such as MoMA PS1 in New York, Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, IMMA Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Museo Carrillo Gil in Mexico City, and the X Nicaragua Biennial in Managua and Manifesta 11 in Zurich, among others.
Jeremy Deller (b. 1966 in London; lives and works in London) studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute and at Sussex University. He began making artworks in the early 1990s, often showing them outside conventional galleries. Deller won the Turner Prize in 2004 and represented Britain in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. He has been producing projects over the past two decades which have influenced the map of contemporary art.