Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Jeremy Deller's bouncy castle stonehenge opens in Glasgow

When was the last time public art was this fun? Jeremy Deller (b.1966) has unveiled his first public work in Scotland, Sacrilege, an inflatable model of Stonehenge. The work will be on display on Glasgow Green until Bank Holiday Monday on 7 May 2012 as part of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts (known as GI). It will later be on display in London as part of the Olympics.

It took two months for Inflatable World Leisure (who built the first bouncy castle in the UK) to make the artwork, which was designed using detailed plans of the original 4,500 year old monument in Salisbury.

There's a great mini-interview with Deller on the Artforum website, where he also manages to shoehorn in a mention of Hawkwind:

'FOR SACRILEGE, I wanted to come up with a way for the public to interact with a very large work, and I also wanted to create something specifically about Stonehenge, and by association our ancestors. I had been thinking about how to do this for a long time and decided it would be best to create an inflatable replica of the prehistoric site. Visitors will be invited to jump and play inside of it.
Stonehenge is actually very big, but it’s hard to tell since it’s been roped off since 1977. You usually can’t get very close to it. I see that restriction as an opportunity. Glasgow Green is also very large. So making this plastic replica at life size—at one hundred and forty feet wide—in public space will give visitors an idea of how big Stonehenge really is. But the point is also for it to be a pleasant experience. The piece has an inflatable floor; otherwise you wouldn’t be able to bounce on it. I’m not going to be bouncing around in it all the time, though.
There are a lot of replicas of Stonehenge around the world, so it’s not unusual to make a replica of it. There’s a very good one in China, actually—at least the picture of it online looks amazing. What I’m doing is nothing new, except the inflatable part maybe. Anyway, Stonehenge is just one of those things that belongs to the world.
We’re still negotiating where it will be located during the Olympics, but for now the plan is for the work to go on a tour of the boroughs of London and around the UK. I’ve always thought that a good deal of public or community art is pompous and has too many lofty aims. I just wanted to make something that could be enjoyed and also be a bit silly. I think we elevate artists too much, to the point where they believe their own hype and think they are truly special and important. In the UK we especially suffer from this.
Sacrilege is playful and cheeky. The title is a way is to ward off any criticism—some will think that it is just that, a sacrilege, so why not call it that? One intended outcome is laughter, perhaps a few tears, and certainly enjoyment, though not necessarily in that order. For me at least it is also a nod to what I would call the “freak out” tendency in UK culture: Hawkwind, Bruce Lacey, and Ken Russell being its best exponents.'

My only slight reservation is that it seems rather random that the artwork is in Glasgow - what does Stonehenge, an English monument, have to do with Glasgow? I wondered whether maybe it just happened to be ready before the Olympics and the artist thought they'd give it a test run in Glasgow - not that there is anything wrong with that. Hope no dastardly kids with sharps get on it.....

There's a great video here: