EN / nl
b. 1966, London, England; lives and works in London
The Battle of Orgreave, 2001 Co-Directed with Mike Figgis. Commissioned by: Artangel, UK, in association with Channel 4. Photography: Parisah Taghizadeh. Video 60 min.
On June 18th, 1984, an enormous clash between more than five thousand picketers from the National Union of Miners (NUM) and a similar force of British policemen took place at the British Steel coking plant in Orgreave, near Rotherham, Yorkshire. Dubbed ‘The Battle of Orgreave’, this was the biggest confrontation of the NUM Miner’s strike of 1984-1985, which marked the decay of the trade union movement in Britain and made way for the redefinition of economic relations by Margaret Thatcher’s government. Seventeen years later, Jeremy Deller organized a reenactment of the event with over 800 former miners and extras, in collaboration with more than twenty battle reenactment societies, as a means to explore the personal and social significance of what, in the artist’s words, was “part of the lineage of decisive battles in English History” (Deller 2002: 7). By appropriating the tactics of reenactment, Deller’s intervention turned a form of nostalgic entertainment into a means of collectivized social history, prompting ex-miners and former members of the police forces to rethink their participation in the events. It also afforded the re-enactors insight into the predicament of the miner’s pickets, confronting them with their portrayal by the media as criminals and agitators. The action, coordinated by Howard Giles and recorded for a TV documentary, is widely recognized as one of the most important artistic interventions of the early 21st Century. CM