28 May 2012

Joy in Bats

Jeremy Deller's touring mid-career retrospective, 'Joy in People', opens at the Wiels Centre in Brussels this week.  The culmination of this exuberant exhibition finds its joy in bats rather than people.  The 3D film installation, 'Exodus', absorbs the viewer into the extraordinary experience of bats' flight at its most intense.

Jeremy Deller, 'Exodus', 2012
copyright Jeremy Deller

'Exodus' is filmed in the same Texas caves that provided the final 8-minute sequence of Deller's 2003 film 'Memory Bucket' - in which millions of bats swarm out of the cave as dusk descends.  In this new film he returns both physically and intellectually to his overriding interest in bats.

Although it is the only work in the exhibition which does not include people, its subject is none-the-less social.  Bats live in colonies and are intrinsically community-minded - the film is a 3D reflection of our own species.

The first issue of P.E.A.R. published two different proposals for bat houses in Southwest London.  The open competition to design a residence for bats was initiated by Deller in 2007.  He said at that time that he hoped the home would accommodate different species with different housing needs so that they might live and raise their families communally.

Deller's film of bats in flight causes us to question how we live with others and, perhaps, these bat houses begin to provide some answers.