Iggy Pop’s Post-Pop Depression is Rough Trade’s album of the year. You’ve got to have been living in a coffin not to have heard Gardenia, the Bowie riffs, classic.
JEREMY DELLER ON IGGY POP
“10 years ago I had an idea about Iggy posing for a life class,” says the Turner-award winning artist, Jeremy Deller. He tried contacting. Got nothing back. Iggy was touring, waiting for his body to age. Then it happened in February 2016. The result: 107 life-drawing pictures, by 22 students, donated to the Museum of Brooklyn, on show on this day of publication, running till March 26, 2017, and will remain in the permanent collection.
Deller emerged post-British shock artists, growing up in club culture, working at Fiona Cartledge’s Sign of the Times, his early works were poising questions about culture, such as a village hall tour, and the (now much copied) acid-house brass with the KLF, doing their songs as orchestral scores.
Subculture rings through his hippy-ideals, always deadly political and poignant. He toured with a stone-henge bouncy castle, one that you could genuinely play in, and has made T-shirts asking What would Neil Young do? He’s made union slogans, badges, the lot…and it speaks to wide audiences.
Deller is clear he sees rock n roll as the biggest art form of the late 20th century, and as such Iggy’s body is American #1.
“What his body’s been through, what it represents…It’s like a forty year piece of performance art, punishing yourself with glass…” [Iggy was known for slashing his skin on stage, whaaaay before Sidney Viscose].
Not the first artist to strip Iggy down to his cock, Iggy’s been laying it down to the lens and glory of mercury and gelatin since he started hanging out in New York, managed by Danny Fields (whose Danny Says film is worth finding). Iggy describes the process to Thurston as cultural direction, pointing them towards photographers, Warhol-peripherals, getting them around the right places. But before New York he was too young to be in a rock n roll band, and as he says in the film, “All the rock stars lived in London, or LA…we were like what are we gonna do? We can’t be rock stars…” He and the Asheton brothers, as they plotted to escape Detroit, found themselves in amid a healthy arts scene. Mike Kelley is mentioned as a key influence on Deller’s project, Kelley was part of the Detroit music scene which spawned MC5, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, stuff which was different to what had been before, and precursory to NYC’s scene of Patti Smith, Blondie & co at Max’s Kansas City, and CBGBs. You can see the way Kelley’s influenced Deller.
The results of getting Iggy Pop naked for a few hours vary in style. This is Pop & Deller’s fave, by Kalliyah Merilus, b. 1996.
“He has one leg longer than the other, you may know that… this is his fave shot [above], and mine…I think the reason he likes this, you can see that he’ll have been in Berlin, and the expressionism that was around then…and the Die Brücke [previous movement, early twentieth century, naive influenced boho scene, isolating itself in Dresden].”
“I was shocked and very excited [when Pop agreed to the Life Class project]. The process was quick and he wanted to do it very quick. It was a very simple idea, people drawing him: 4 short poses, one long pose, I was worried he’s going to want to leave, get bored, and the lying pose, that came because he got tired, and he lay down…”
“We did this seated pose, a greek god pose, majestic, I wanted him to look his age, I asked him why he didn’t want to do [Life Class] in 2006, he said it was because he was too young, and I think he needed to keep his career in the cycle of touring, rather than art, and wanted to have himself drawn at a certain point in his life, it is like a Roman sculpture, so there are a lot of associations with art history.”
“They [the 22 students] were not aware of who they were drawing until the night before, so people that applied, the participants, 7 or 8 didn’t know who he was, but they really concentrated on his face. It’s almost a sculpture in itself. They liked his face. He was a great model, working with the light, two and half hours, and we put a cross on the wall which he focussed on. And he knew the length of 20 minutes was the length of an album side, and was within seconds of knowing how long the poses lasted.”
“The drawings were automatically given to a museum, and he liked that, 110 drawings of him, as a document, and it’s a gift to the American nation. I wanted different styles, because it should reflect NYC, the place it was made. To me, his face is like Mount Rushmore. He’s super-charming, super-relaxed. You get all these different views of what people think of him. Photography is super-confrontational. The scourge of the mobile phone… The complication of association [speaking of selfies] – like how cool are they to have met the person. This was different. He enjoyed it.”
“The show is on now in Brooklyn. We also showed all these male nudes, the Brooklyn Museum, where you have 2000 years of time travel, you can go from one room of Impressionism to Indian temples, so I knew he liked the Detroit Museum, which is similar.” The exhibition has pieces of the museum’s collection beside it. Ancient lingum-style tincy sculptures, of Bacchus & a lil man using his oversize-phallus to play the harp. Jeremy explains: “Sacred and profane, the roots in the church made rock n roll, and these Roman and Egyptian pieces, the Bacchus and satyrs, these mythological figures, I think that’s what Iggy represents.”
And wow, Iggy is the ultimate. He’s a man with full merch these days. Supping on the canon of his glory. When celebrity is a post-modern expansion on talent, available to all through the contemporary canvas of a mobile phone, as a guitar once offered an open road, it seems like original musical notes are replaced by a compulsively weird index of connectivity to measure life by – against which the purity of life-drawing, of jamming, of pure art, continue to stand alone – and Iggy will always be the first, he is raw power.
Suck it up like vegetables, people…
Listen to Iggy live at the Albert Hall…