Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane

FOLK ARCHIVE: Contemporary Popular Art from the UK

“If Pop art is about liking things, as Andy Warhol once said, then folk art is about loving things.” Jeremy Deller

“Spray painted cars, flower arrangements, gurning competitions, crop circles and images of mad sporting activities – an exhibition by people who don’t normally get exhibited, curated by artists who believe there may be nothing more important. Their devotion to the subject is both genuine and unshakeable.”Simon Garfield – The Observer magazine, 10.10.04.

Folk Archive is a vibrant visual account of contemporary popular art, celebrating energetic and engaging creativity from a vast range of activities occurring throughout the UK. It includes incredible objects, films, drawings, painting, performance, costume, decoration, political opinion, humour, poetry and more, from our own, often overlooked, doorstep. A wide cross section of the community will have their work shown in an art gallery for the first time, with work drawn from prisoners and community groups, gurning and barrel rolling participants, Carnival troupes, protesters’ banners, pop fans, bored teenagers, villagers, and many more. The archive updates how folk art is considered in light of recent social, technological and cultural changes and through addressing the politics of display negotiates the boundaries between what is considered art and non-art.
Often ‘folk art’ comprised paintings produced by untrained ‘outsider’ artists and hand-made, often highly decorated, utilitarian objects where the labour involved in making them far exceeded practical or fiscal value. Folk art has always contained a narrative or commemorative element, an alternative story and aesthetic, with less than mainstream political messages. The huge increase in attention from the media for contemporary art together with institutional ambition for wider audiences have produced a situation where the mainstream and the underground appear in closer proximity than at any point in history. However folk art production remains underground in this context. As many contemporary artists use folk art as a formal device, it is at once being subsumed and consumed while its producers are undervalued and by and large un-credited. This show will advocate how widespread and energetic contemporary folk art is and the central role it plays in the nature of a society and it’s art.
Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane are London based artists who have worked independently and collaboratively on various projects. Deller is the winner of the 2004 Turner Prize. Alan Kane has exhibited at The Showroom Gallery, London, Norwich Art Gallery and The Modern Institute in Glasgow. Their practices as collaborators and individual artists consistently question models of production and display, testing the parameters of art, its forms and hierachies.
Bruce Haines is a London based curator and writer working at Camden Arts Centre and on freelance projects; he produced ‘Unconvention’ with Deller at CVA, Cardiff, 1999.

A full color book by Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane accompanies the exhibition. Edited by Bruce Haines and Jane Rolo, with an essay by Jeremy Millar. Published by Book Works; available at the Kunsthalle Basel (CHF 34.- / € 22.-).

The exhibition Folk Archive at the Kunsthalle Basel is supported by:

E. Gutzwiller & CIE

British Council

Hilton Basel

watch video of the opening in the Kunsthalle at