Akeroyd Collection


Jeremy Deller, English Magic, 2013

English Magic is a short film of roughly twelve minutes that distils many of the central ideas of a larger exhibition of the same title, created for the British Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Focusing on British society - its people, icons, myths, folklore and its cultural and political history, this film component weaves together these visual materials around two key pieces of music. The first is A Guy Called Gerald’s legendary acid house track, Voodoo Ray from 1988 and David Bowie’s 1970 hit, The Man Who Sold The World. Both tracks are performed by The Melodians Steel Orchestra from South London and we see in the film footage of these tracks being recorded in Studio 2 of Abbey Road Studios in London.

The film brings together many of the ideas behind the works in the Pavilion and features visual and thematic elements that reflect Deller's interest in the diverse nature of British society and its broad cultural, socio-political, and economic history. Bookended by slow motion footage of a bird of prey landing during a falconry exercise, the music accompanies footage of range rovers being crushed and communities playing on an inflatable Stonehenge, Canary Wharf, London’s most recent financial district visible in the background. The choreography and skill with which the destruction and play occur are set in perfect harmony with the steel drum acid house cover. Meanwhile, The Man Who Sold the World keeps a march on footage of a procession of pageantry from British industry, academia, finance, and the military. Intercut with footage of the band playing, setting up and packing away, the juxtapositions relay a poetic sense of community, ritual and counter-cultural histories alongside key signifiers of industrial, social and political uncertainties.

MediumHD Digital video
Duration14 minutes 23 seconds
Editionof 6 + 1 AP