The project Wiltshire Before Christ stems from the collaboration between the artist Jeremy Deller, the streetwear brand Aries and the fashion photographer David Sims, who worked to create an exhibition of a capsule collection of clothes and a book, starting with the many suggestions offered by the most famous and mysterious prehistoric site in the world: Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, UK, the oldest part of which dates back to 3.000 BC. Having entered the collective imagination and become a mass tourism destination, Stonehenge is a founding place for British identity and culture. This is why it has already been the subject of a work by Jeremy Deller, an artist highly interested in themes regarding popular culture, manifestations of folklore and mass culture. Indeed, in 2012 Deller created Sacrilege, an installation that reproduced the archaeological site on a 1:1 scale in the form of inflatable structures where children could play, turning it into an attraction worthy of Luna Park.
With Wiltshire Before Christ Deller instead restores magic and mystery to the enormous stones of Stonehenge, investigating, through reference to a more remote ancient symbol, the pull exerted on humans over thousands of years by the themes of mysticism and pagan symbolism, and the profoundness of concepts of identity, time and place, but still managing to mix them up with pop culture. “Stonehenge could be the greatest logo or trademark in the whole world. The silhouette is so recognisable — it probably has more recognition than almost anything in Britain short of the Queen,” claims the artist. In addition to producing a video and installations, Deller, inspired by Sofia Prantera – the creative mind of the Aries brand - also took on the production of objects and items of clothing inspired by the archaeology, presented in the exhibition as relics of a distant past, creating a short circuit between eras and languages. The shots by David Sims, which see Stonehenge and Avebury as the set of a fashion shoot, reproduced in the exhibition on large lightboxes, further blur the boundaries between the past and the present. “It’s an unusual exhibition,” says Deller, “I almost worked as a set designer, it was more a question of creating an atmosphere... and it was essentially a collective work, with Sofia and David.”
Through an immersive exhibition path that sees different artistic and creative approaches repeatedly encroaching on each other, Wiltshire Before Christ c ombines art, photography and fashion in an innovative project, which is complex to define and beyond the realms of what is normally presented in a museum institute, mixing up presumed cultural hierarchies. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, a genuine guide to the Neolithic sites of Great Britain, with an introduction by the famous archaeologist Julian Richards, aerial maps of the sites, together with images of ancient local structures and photographs taken by David Sims. The publication Wiltshire Before Christ will be available online on www.ideabooks.com, www.ariesarise.com, and at Centro Pecci. Defined by the Scottish critic Mark Brown as the "Pied Piper of popular culture" for his political and social research, Jeremy Deller (London, UK, 1966) is a conceptual artist who works with different media such as video, installations and music, often involving other people in the creative process. His most known works include The Battle of Orgreave ( 2001), a re-enactment of the great clash between the police and protesters during the English miner strikes in 1984.
In 2004 Deller won the Turner Prize, and in 2013 he represented the United Kingdom at the Venice Biennale with the project English Magic, which reflected on the roots of British society, its people, myths, folklore, and its cultural and political history, interweaving events from the past and present with an imaginary future in an almost psychedelic narration. At the Centro Pecci in November 2018, Deller presented the video Everybody in The Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (2018) within the artist’ film series Second Summer of Love. Aries is a streetwear project by the duo Sofia Prantera and Fergus Purcell, which unites allusions to the most famous fashion brands with youth anti-fashion movements and points of reference of the underground culture, revealing a return to the sensibilities of the 1980s. Sofia Prantera, Italian, who trained at Central St Martins in the mid-Nineties, was a candidate at the 2018 British Fashion Awards in the British Emerging TalentWomenswearsection.Thecapsulecollectionof30WB4Cp ieces,availableinlimitededition,stems from the collaboration between Aries and Jeremy Deller. Presented as part of the exhibition, the collection will be also available at Centro Pecci.
WILTSHIRE BEFORE CHRIST
un progetto di Aries, Jeremy Deller e David Sims
19.04 – 15.09.2019
Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci