The Hayward gallery has done an excellent job of managing to contain these installations with the use of video and by creating a replica of his bedroom. There’s also a café where visitors can sit and relax with a cup of coffee. However, it feels like something has been lost in translation — they may be have been more effective in their original settings.
Deller’s work seems to be whatever takes his fancy at any particular moment. Such freedom is admirable but it keeps the viewer at arms length and you may never feel as if this exhibition speaks to you. The personal slant to his art means that if you haven’t experienced what Deller has, then you won’t be able to appreciate it. If the miners’ strikes, Depeche Mode and the Manic Street Preachers mean nothing to you, then half the exhibition may be wasted on you.
Some of Deller’s work does have a universal appeal, such as his humorous cross-comparison of Britain and Iraq, and his 3D film of bats leaving their roost; but they are in the minority.
This is definitely an exhibition that will divide people. Some may view his art as imaginative and creative but for those who think contemporary artists can be self-absorbed and pretentious, this will only add fuel to that fire.
You might like to browse our London Artists series.