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Jeremy Deller's Procession: An Exhibition at Cornerhouse in Manchester
Procession, an exhibition by Jeremy Deller. Photo: Tim Sinclair.

MANCHESTER. This summer, Cornerhouse presents Jeremy Deller’s Procession: An Exhibition. Curated by The Salford Restoration Office, the exhibition brings together a collection of objects from Procession, created by Deller on 5 July as part of the 2009 Manchester International Festival.

From Roman soldiers making triumphal processions with the spoils of their battles, to workers displaying solidarity in May Day processions, such occasions have provided memorable points of political, religious and social focus. Whether to provide images of propaganda and power, extravagance and opulence, or moments of common participation and entertainment, processions reflect the societies that make them.

In Deller’s procession, Greater Manchester’s celebratory processional stalwarts, such as brass bands and rose queens, mingle with icons and symbols of contemporary myth and folklore, to create and reflect a ‘northern social surrealism’, both on the street and in the exhibition. The exhibition contains some of the elements created for the live procession, and other images, objects and representations unearthed along the way.

- Gallery 1 presents a specially commissioned film of Procession, shot at the event on 5 July.

- Gallery 2 sets out to contextualise Procession historically, presenting objects and films that have been key during the research period. Amongst films drawn from the North West Film Archive is footage from legendary local events, such as the Stretford Pageants, Yuri Gagarin’s visit to Manchester in 1961 and numerous Whit Walks. Also included is material on loan from the Working Class Movement Library relating to the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1924, plus a number of beautiful clay pipes drawn from the Pollock & Company collection at The Museum of Science and Industry. These are shown alongside a set of charmingly underwhelming objects that have seen remarkable things, such as a step from the cotton mill Gandhi visited when he came to Lancashire in 1931, and piles of rubble extracted from the demolition site of Friedrich Engels’ families’ factory in Salford.

- Gallery 3 displays a selection of banners from Procession, which have been hand sewn and made by Ed Hall, in collaboration with participating groups. Hall, whom Deller describes as a “critical craftsman”, is one of the last remaining British banner makers. Beneath the suspended banners is a full size replica of Valerie’s Café from Bury Market. Built as a float for Procession, the café reverts to something closer to its archetype, serving tea and cakes, and hosting a number of events during the exhibition, including a reunion for those whose ancestors were present at the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, those who welcomed Yuri Gargarin to the city in 1961 and those who danced when Jerry Lee Lewis performed at Granada Studios in 1964.

Two specially produced booklets are available to take away from the exhibition. Manchester 2050 contains visions of the future by both serious academics and schoolchildren and 21.05.09 SK1 2HH is a collection of documentary photographs of modified car enthusiasts, taken by Jeremy Deller and Tim Sinclair.

The exhibition also provides access to, which is a unique collaborative online project to showcase Procession. Led by Let’s Go Global, the online project features interviews with Procession participants, archival material from the North West Film Archive, and images of past processions and events uploaded by the public.

Cornerhouse | Manchester | Jeremy Deller | Yuri Gagarin | Manchester International Festival |

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