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Exhibition explores how popular culture has influenced recent contemporary art
Mark Leckey, ACC7, 2005.

EASTBOURNE.- Towner Art Gallery announces Now, Today, Tomorrow and Always, an exhibition exploring how popular culture, and its vast compendium of imagery, language and materials has influenced recent contemporary art. Twelve internationally renowned artists present painting, film, photography, sculpture and installations specially selected from the Arts Council Collection and Towner’s own collection.

With a focus on the liberating, provocative and seductive power of music and film, Now, Today, Tomorrow and Always investigates a range of themes from subculture, fandom and marginal communities, to individual, collective and national identity. The exhibition title comes from Shoplifters of the World Unite, a song by The Smiths on the seminal album The World Won’t Listen, borrowed by Phil Collins’ for his three part karaoke video installation. dűnya dinlemiyor, the second part of the work, features Turkish fans in an Istanbul nightclub singing their favourite tracks from The World Won’t Listen against lurid backdrops of mountains, blossom, woods, palm trees and lakes.

Jeremy Deller’s key early work, The Uses of Literacy (1997) is inspired by Richard Hoggart’s 1957 book of the same name, which situates popular culture within the lives of the working class. The artist’s installation draws together paintings, collages, drawings, books, poetry and other ephemera donated by fans of the Manic Street Preachers. Acting as curator, Deller presents the material as an examination of the intense relationship between fan and performer, whilst mapping out the rich intellectual territory mined by the band.

Five paintings from Mario Rossi’s series The End/Untitled (1996-2000) depict the words ‘The End’ as they appear in the films Madam X, An Imitation of Life, Psycho, On the Waterfront and True Grit. A play on both the processes of painting and filmmaking, the works are presented as a single grid, in which the collective final moments of the classic movies are slowed down to a single static image.

In Jubilee Dancer (2011), Matt Stokes revisits raw footage filmed at an unofficial rave on farmland ‘celebrating’ the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, replacing the heavy bass soundtrack with the music of a traditional folk reel. Criss-crossing gliding feet momentarily sync with the cheerful tune, rooting a twenty-first century event in a long history of counter-cultural celebration and rural revelry.

Mark Leckey’s film installation Parade (2003), positions the artist in front of a passing carnival of images exploring the notion of the modern urban dandy: fashion models, designer shops, electrical stores, pawnshops and other signifiers of conspicuous consumption.

Inspired by Venetian architecture, 1970s disco and Japanese Kabuki theatre, Anthea Hamilton’s Venice Kimono (2012), depicts the face of actor John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever printed on the back of a silk kimono.

T-Shirt Painting (1993-1998) presents Ross Sinclair’s collection of eighty t-shirts, hand-painted with song titles, puns on crass, pseudo American slogans and phrases from literature and philosophy or fragments of pub conversations.

The other works in the show include Graham Gussin’s Transitory 9 (Karloff, Kinski, Krystal), (2005) series of cut-up still images from iconic films mixed together as semi-abstract collisions of gender, genre, gesture and role; Psycho Montage III (The Mirror), (1978), John Stezaker’s pairing of collages of film stills from the moment in Hitchcock’s Psycho when the protagonist’s sister encounters her mirror reflection in the mysterious house on the hill; and Jim Lambie’s darkly glittering Sid Vicious (2001).

Now, Today, Tomorrow and Always is the second exhibition curated by Towner from the Arts Council Collection for the National Partners Programme following A Certain Kind of Light, and the presentation of the Arts Council Collection’s touring exhibition, One Day Something Happens.

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