This year GB showed the work of Jeremy Deller - English magic. As with many of the works on view at the biennale, his work has a very political edge to it. Deller has subtly highlighted many of the core political issues of the past few years, such as how offshore tax havens and large corporations get around paying tax – legally.
You are greeted as you walk in to a large drawing of a rare hen harrier clutching a range rover, the work references two birds seen to be shot out of the sky on the Sandringham estate by a wildlife officer and two members of the public back in 2007, the only people shooting that day were Prince Harry and a friend of his, as the carcasses were never found no action was ever taken.
The exhibition also includes references to the UK engaging in the Iraq war and the apparent suicide of David Kelly at the outbreak of the Iraq war, possibly due to the pressure he was under to support the theory that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, though none were ever found, interestingly the UK and Iraq pavilions were the only ones offering free tea to visitors during the press preview days.
A series of photograps from the David Bowie classic Ziggy Stardust tour in 1972 are in room 6, this coincided with the year 26 civilians were shot (14 died) during a civil rights march in Londonderry, it was also the start of the IRA bombing campaign as well as an economic depression. The photograph show images from many campaigns of the day.
Deller has highlighted the low points of British culture over the past 40 or 50 years, here in Venice at this temple of high culture at least some artists are making a strong point about it.
Whilst in Venice for the last Biennale in 2011, Roman Abramovich super yacht parked along side the Giardini blocking the iconic view of venice, the yachts security fence took up much of the public walkway forcing pedestrians and visitors to the bienalle around it in small ques. A giant drawing of William Morris the victorian designer and socialist picking up the yacht and throwing into the lagoon was commissioned into the wall of the gallery.
Deller also works in the future, a work about the offshore tax centre of Jersey highlights a financial instrument called the jersey cashbox, in Dellers jersey the island is mobbed by angry british taxpayers angry about it’s status as a tax haven.
The exhibition will tour the UK visiting the Bristol Museum and art gallery, William Morris gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest and Margate.
Jeremy Deller’s Britich Council commission is at La Biennale di Venezia until 24th November, for more information see www.britishcouncil.org/visualarts