Saturday, December 07, 2013

Morris Rave at the Tate

On 6 December, Late at the Tate, an evening show at Tate Britain featured Acid Brass, a project by artist Jeremy Deller and the Williams Fairey Brass Band. We were in a video to be shown during the evening. The video is below. Play it loud, and full screen.

But what does it all mean? We certainly didn't know.

Deller is a Turner-winning artist, who is known for using the Sealed Knot for his re-enactment of the Battle of Orgreave, between striking miners and policemen. Acid Brass is another collaborative art project with a political twist, where he used a traditional brass band to reproduce acid house anthems.

This isn't as disconnected as you might think. If it had a "message", it was that brass bands and acid house are associated with the industrial decline of the North. Meanwhile, the brass band got into the idea of playing this repetitive music, playing it with their usual attention to their craft, and pleasing large crowds.

We didn't get any of that. We were sent a link to a piece of Deller's art - a flow chart which is on the wall at the Tate.

This didn't instantly grab us as a piece of art. Even knowing more about the Acid Brass project, it looks like a somewhat forced effort to make some gallery-fodder out of the project, something that can be put on a wall at the Tate.

Whatever, we were told that to celebrate this piece of art, Tate was commissioning some videos, and they wanted us to transform from Morris dancing to rave dancers. We showed up in the Clore wing of the Tate to spend a very long evening filming.

We were disappointed we never got to wear our bells or play our own instruments for use in the video, but the director had his ideas worked out already. We were invited to come back on the night and see the film.

On the night, Peter K and I found Tate Britain filling with slightly grim looking revellers. There was loud and music playing in various places (none of it sounding very interesting to me). We found where our film was showing, and helped the technician set it up. It was on with a very amusing film Summers of Love which uses the Chapman Brothers artwork in the Tate to animate some old acid house news footage.

The video was played quietly enough that we could dance in front of it. One rather relaxed girl was trying to encourage this sort of thing, and everyone else seemed happy with it. We strolled about the gallery, playing tunes and jigging anywhere where there seemed to be an audience.

Looking a little lost? Yes we probably were. People seemed to like what we were up to, and we certainly enjoyed a bit of guerilla Morris.

We failed to fight our way into the area for the actual Acid Brass performance (something I now regret).

We went back to watch our video with John Monson who arrived, and then went home.

We weren't booked to dance at the evening, but were only challenged once by Tate staff. We said we were in the video, and that made it all right.

We were also wearing our own T-shirts. Our own flow-chart which is a tangential homage to Deller and the whole confused cultural process.

Peter Judge 

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