Guy Oliver, You Know Nothing of My Work at Jerwood GalleryGuy Oliver takes an unexpectedly musical investigation into a well trodden debate: can we, and should we, separate art from an artist, particularly if that artist has done horrible things.
Going even further, Oliver’s film investigates whether our subjective positions in society affect our ability to make these decisions. He does this with acrobatic self awareness, exploring the social, material, and financial implications of our decisions.
Far from moralising, however, Oliver’s film strikes an incredibly entertaining and engaging tone, following the protagonist (Oliver himself) on a journey from a charity shop’s shelves through archival Top of the Pops footage, and then metaphysically into the shooting of the film itself.
Oliver recounts horrifying incidents of abuse, exploitation, and assault by those who misused positions of power (Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, etc.) in a series of catchy, earnest, but completely tuneless musical numbers. This presentation not only underlines the levity with which institutions took these incidents back in the eighties, but also cleverly replicates the exact dilemma he is discussing - how can I laugh at this funny, tuneless man, while he’s discussing such horrible statistics? It’s uncomfortable.
Oliver’s verse is nothing short of incredible; I want the soundtrack as a CD. We were lucky enough to meet the man himself after the screening, who answered a number of our silly questions with patience and graciousness (sorry Guy, obviously you didn’t build the charity shop yourself). Thank you to FVU and Jerwood for having us.