The Venice Biennale is art's Olympic Games and Eurovision rolled into one. Representing Britain this year is Jeremy Deller. We caught up with our magic man to talk tea, gifts and queuing.
What does it mean to be chosen to do the pavilion?
‘Initially I was quite surprised; I wasn't expecting to be chosen. Often when you're asked to do things like this; a, you think why me? and b, what can I possibly do? Your mind goes blank and you have mild panic for a few minutes and then you settle down and think, actually I can do this. But was does it mean? It means more as these opening days go on and you realise that it's a very big deal. I knew it was a big deal, but for me it is just a big exhibition, on the world stage. I don't feel any responsibility to the UK even though the shows all about it. It's in a context where I know a lot of people will see it and so I'm trying to make a show that's quite open, friendly to the public.’
Did you have to approach it in a different way to past projects?
‘Only because the architecture of the pavilion is very specific. ‘English Magic’ is an exhibition, it's not an event or a project outside a gallery. It's a very traditional environment, which I like, meaning I could do a traditional gallery show in my own way; paintings, drawings, lots of old objects, things you might expect to see in a gallery or museum. Most of the things I do, I do because I want to – I get the idea and I try to make them happen. Here it's a specific thing with a time limit, it had to be finished last week.
Read the entire interview with Jeremy Deller on Time Out London.
Image: Jeremy Deller outside the British Pavilion, Venice, May 2013 © Alan McQuillan.