Jeremy Deller to take Acid Brass to Meltdown as Martin Creed plays organ grinder

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 03 April 2014

British artist Jeremy Deller will fill the Southbank Centre with house and brass as part of this year's Meltdown

Acid Brass, Jeremy Deller’s parping collision of acid house classics filtered through big band instrumentation, will be part of a Sunday Come Down by the River Thames in the final day of Meltdown, the Southbank Centre’s annual line-up of one-off performances chosen by a guest curator.

James Lavelle, the DJ overlord who describes his curatorial choices for this year’s festival as a “giant psychedelic jigsaw puzzle”, has enlisted the likes of Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde and the Philharmonia Orchestra for the mini-season. Deller’s composition is based on The History of the World, a 1997 flow diagram drawing parallels between the social and political histories of the musical spheres the work encompasses.

A photo of a man standing in front of a massive hall organ
Martin Creed with the Royal Festival Hall organ© Alastair Muir
“I was terrified of ringing up the bandleader of the Williams Fairey Band to ask if he would do this,” says the artist, whose recent performances included a show-closer for Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery at the end of last year.

"Based on the connections I made in The History of the World, I decided to try to get a brass band to agree to perform a repertoire of acid house music.

“I thought it would take lots of convincing and explaining – but he agreed immediately.

“He just said, ‘alright, we'll do it. We'll do it once and see how it goes’, which is exactly the attitude you want.

“So we performed it once, and it went really well, and we continued to perform it. The experience taught me a lot about working with the public.

“I realised that I didn't have to make objects anymore. I could just do these sort of events, make things happen, work with people and enjoy it.

“I could do these messy, free-ranging, open-ended projects, and that freed me up from thinking about being an artist in a traditional sense. I had been liberated by a brass band."

Deller is no stranger to the Southbank. His 2012 exhibition, Joy in People, proved that the former art history student could eschew both sculpture and painting, while his current Hayward Touring exhibition, All that is Solid Melts into Air, is currently at Nottingham Castle before visits to Warwick and Newcastle.

The performance will be the second classically-inspired performance at the Southbank devised by a leading British artist. Last Sunday, Martin Creed presented Back to Bach on the ancient, recently-restored organ which spans the back of the stage at the Royal Festival Hall.

Creed’s Work No.1815 was performed alongside some of JS Bach’s best-known pieces. Another of the artist’s compositions, Work No.409, plays in the Hall’s main lift as it moves between floors.

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Jeremy Deller plunders industrial heritage for musical Manchester Art Gallery show

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