Joy in People is the brain child of local artist Jeremy Deller who has put together an exhibition that challenges the dimensions of ‘art’ and celebrates the endurance of the human spirit.
Deller tends to create cinematic art and some may argue that is not true art. Even though I have never created an artistic film in my days as an art student, I do appreciate cinematic arts. There is a power to the cinematic arts since it touches more than one sense than transcends traditional and 2D art. One of the artistic films Deller has created in his ‘Joy in People’ exhibition is Our Hobby is Depeche Mode.
Upon entering the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank a bright sign points to Deller’s exhibition, upstairs is where Our Hobby is Depeche Mode is being shown. A flag of the band is hung on a white wall and turning the corner the viewer enters a room of darkness. When I entered I wasn’t sure if there were seats or indeed what film was showing. However after a few minutes of stumbling around I discover there are two benches and a row of plastic chairs sitting in the dark. After that there is a wide open space and a large screen that is so bright against the darkness it’s almost blinding.
I gripped the chair as I sat down being careful not to trip over the old couple or the group of German college students sprawled out on the floor. When I’m safely sat in my sear I take in the film. Deller follows the love affair between Depeche Mode and their fans all over the world.
If I’m to be honest I only recognized one of the songs of this band (this one Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus) but as the film continued I saw fans in eastern European countries such as Romania and Russia that adored them. According to the fans Depeche Mode were popular just after many revolutions in Eastern Europe and Depeche Mode represented the voice of the youth. The rebels who wanted change in their countries. However it wasn’t just the young that followed them. The film portrayed how older fans were in love with Depeche Mode as well. In Russia there are such devoted fans that on a Russian national holiday they have Dave Days in celebration of the Depeche Mode front man.
Other Eastern European fans went as far to deck out their entire families in Depeche Mode outfits, others created their versions of the videos in the woods in Germany, others sold bottles and cans to raise money to go to concerts.
Out of the many shown in the film the most emotional story was one of a homeless man who was living under the Hammersmith Bridge in the 90’s. The man would beg for change every day. He had been given a walkman and a Depeche Mode cassette. He listened to the music on a constant basis. Eventually he had enough money to buy a ticket to a Depeche Mode concert in London.
It was at that concert when he was surrounded by people who loved the same thing as he did that he decided he wanted more experiences like that one and that moment inspired him to get off the streets.Depeche Mode inspired change within the man because he felt connected to the other fans.
That is why Our Hobby is Depeche Mode is art because it the film is not about a band or fans or even music. It’s about exposing that insatiable need we have as humans to be connected in order to feel alive. Our Hobby is Depeche Mode focuses on that internal desire we have to be a part of something bigger than ourselves that causes us to aspire and to dream. For the people in Deller’s film being infatuated with Depeche Mode was their way of being part of something bigger.
It was their way of standing out, of representing their rebellion against their old ways and their way of feeling a connection to the world beyond their own. Our Hobby is Depache Mode is a treasure in the Joy in People exhibition and true art because in the end it shows how one thing, even a thing such as an eighties alternative band, can unite people of all ages, religions and colours to ignite hope within their souls for a better tomorrow.
‘Jeremy Deller: Joy in People’ at the Hayward Gallery runs until 13 May 2012.