Introduction

Anne Pasternak: Hello. Welcome, every­body. I am Anne Pasternak. I’m the new Shelby White Leon Levy Director of the Brooklyn Museum. Let’s take a poll for a sec­ond. When do I stop say­ing I’m the new Director? It’s been one year. Is it two years? Votes for 2 years? One year? Oh, that’s so unkind. How about five years? 

Well, I’m real­ly excit­ed that you’re all here with us to cel­e­brate two excep­tion­al shows by three excep­tion­al artists. Of course Marilyn Minter’s ret­ro­spec­tive, and Jeremy Deller’s project, his col­lab­o­ra­tion with Iggy Pop.

So, momen­tar­i­ly we’re going to hear from Jeremy and Iggy. And I just want­ed to share with you a lit­tle bit of back­ground about this project. When Jeremy told me before I arrived at the muse­um he had a great idea, I didn’t even know the idea. I just said, Let’s do it.” I swear to God. I’m not sup­posed to tell any­body that, but it is true. Other artists in the room, do not lis­ten to that. 

I had the plea­sure of work­ing with Jeremy when I was the Director of Creative Time on a project called It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq”. Some of you may have known of that project. You may have seen the instal­la­tion at the New Museum. But it was basi­cal­ly an RV that trav­eled around the coun­try with a US sol­dier who had done three tours in Iraq, Jeremy, and an Iraqi sol­dier who had served in the Iraqi mil­i­tary. And at a time of war, talk­ing about the peo­ple that we were at war with.

You also prob­a­bly know, or many of you prob­a­bly know, about Jeremy’s leg­endary project The Battle of Orgreave, which changed my view of what art could be and what an artist could do. And per­haps you read this sum­mer about the beau­ti­ful, haunt­ing per­for­ma­tive memo­ri­al that Jeremy orches­trat­ed to hon­or the lives of the British who served in World War I, as it made inter­na­tion­al head­li­nes.

If you know Jeremy’s work, you know why I make it a point just to say yes to him, and make it a point to see him when­ev­er I can. So that time about four­teen months ago, Jeremy shared with me a dream. He told me that Iggy Pop was a huge influ­ence in his life. Not only because he’s an icon for punk and rock music. But he’s given us all count­less moments of joy and pro­found inspi­ra­tion, while he has also been an icon for lib­er­at­ing the idea of male sex­u­al­i­ty and iden­ti­ty into a more flu­id iden­ti­ty and coura­geous, bold, direct ways.

So with Jeremy’s dream in mind, last December I met with Iggy. And in March, Iggy brave­ly posed for twenty-two artists who gath­ered at the New York Academy of Art, and Iggy was the unan­nounced mod­el. The artists ranged in ages from 18 to 80. And their draw­ings are accom­pa­nied by sculp­tures from the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of the Brooklyn Museum that were select­ed by Jeremy to take a look at cul­tures from around the globe over mil­len­nia and how they approach the idea of mas­culin­i­ty.

I want to rec­og­nize and ask the artists who are with us who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the life study class to please stand so we can applaud you. [applause] On behalf of the muse­um and Iggy and Jeremy, we’re real­ly grate­ful for your par­tic­i­pa­tion in this project. 

Now, Iggy needs no intro­duc­tion. He is a singer, a song­writer, and actor who began per­form­ing in the 1960s. And in 1967 he formed the leg­endary band The Stooges, which was induct­ed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame just six years ago, and it sig­nif­i­cant­ly influ­enced the tra­jec­to­ry of music as we know it today.

Iggy’s con­certs are also leg­endary. They are so high-energy, so intense­ly stren­u­ous he defines giv­ing it one’s all. In March, Iggy marked the release of his sev­en­teen­th album, Post Pop Depression, to crit­i­cal acclaim, and he has tak­en a break from his world tour to be with us today.

I also want to rec­og­nize in the audi­ence Jim Jarmusch who has just released his new doc­u­men­tary on Iggy. Congratulations. Sorry to call you out. Couldn’t resist.

I also want to thank a few friends for help­ing to make this project a real­i­ty. There was gen­er­ous sup­port for the exhi­bi­tion by our friends Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan, the FUNd, Shane Akeroyd, Philip Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons, Kathleen and Henry Elsesser, Cristina Enriquez-Bocobo, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, and Charlotte Feng Ford. Thank you very much to our donors for join­ing us on this jour­ney.

I hope that you all check out the book that accom­pa­nies this exhi­bi­tion. It’s pub­lished by HENI Publishing. And I also want to thank our awe­some stuff at the Brooklyn Museum that pulled off this project in record speed. I want to rec­og­nize Alicia Boone and my pub­lic pro­gram­mings team. Alicia, where did you go? I want to thank Emily Annis in Exhibitions, and most of all the projects cura­tor who dove in with me on this wild ride, our direc­tor of exhi­bi­tions Sharon Matt Atkins. Sharon, thank you very much.

Now I’m ready to begin, and I just want to say that this con­ver­sa­tion tonight is going to be mod­er­at­ed by a dear friend, my friend Tom Healy. And if any of you have seen our new Brooklyn Talks series over recent months, then you already know Tom because he’s not only a great poet, he’s a real­ly sur­pris­ing, unex­pect­ed, bril­liant mod­er­a­tor. And when he looks at the world, whether it’s through his writ­ing or through the­se inter­views, he too is see­ing very deeply. So, wel­come to the stage Tom Healy, Iggy Pop, and Jeremy Deller.


Iggy Pop: Hey.

Tom Healy: Welcome.

Pop: Hey.

Healy: Hey, Jeremy. 

Jeremy Deller: Hello. Good evening.

Healy: Iggy, thanks for being here. So, there’s this amaz­ing scene, a fun­ny scene, in Cry-Baby where you’re sit­ing in a kind of giant buck­et—

Pop: Beefcake, yeah.

Healy: And you say, Oop, you caught me my birth­day suit, butt naked” 

Pop: That was in a book of stills from the 50s in John Waters’ col­lec­tion, a much beefier guy than me doing that.

Healy: So here you are, though. Caught—

Pop: Oh, in my birth­day suit again.

Healy: In your birth­day suit.

Pop: Well, I think every­one needs to feel com­fort­able at least once in their birth­day suit before they check out. So…it’s my time.

Healy: So Jeremy, talk about this, because you asked Iggy about this eas­i­ly a decade ago? And he said…

Deller: It was about ten years ago I approached him through some­one. And the idea was explained. And you were intrigued, but you weren’t quite total­ly con­vinced. And I think he came round to the idea. Because I approached Iggy ten years lat­er, and then it was like, Yes, I’ll do it.” Very quick­ly he agreed.

Healy: So one of the inter­views when you said you’d changed your mind, you said some­thing real­ly pro­found to me that… You used a metaphor of hav­ing weight.

Pop: No, I didn’t have the weight yet. That’s what I felt.

Healy: Could you talk about that a lit­tle?

Pop: Well… Look, I use my body, as a lot of peo­ple do that work in pub­lic, as a kind of object of com­merce, frankly. When I go out and do a gig, some­body has to pay for the pres­ence. And that’s a cer­tain gig. When you’re still push­ing a hype like that, you lack cul­tur­al weight until you get to the end of that sto­ry where every­body knows you real­ly don’t have to any­more except for an inte­ri­or rea­son. I wasn’t there in 2006. It was just start­ing to rain good things on me, but it hadn’t tak­en its course. 

So there was that. And there was also, I was in the mid­dle of fin­ish­ing the job with my orig­i­nal group, The Stooges, that I had failed to com­plete in the 60s and 70s. And I picked that up lat­er in life, large­ly through the instinct that I wasn’t going to respect myself and oth­er peo­ple weren’t going to respect me unless I fin­ished the first job before I went on and did what I’m now doing, which is I’m fin­ish­ing the job on me.

So, that wasn’t done yet, either. In that case, it was help­ful that I kept at it and kept at it. Nothing would stop me. Even when Ron passed away, I went ahead and con­tin­ued the group with James, the sec­ond, Mach II gui­tarist. And even­tu­al­ly it helped us in the real world to get the sup­port of an insti­tu­tion like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And it helped put the group in a less sor­did light for the gen­er­al pub­lic. [audi­ence laugh­ter] That’s impor­tant.

And also, every sto­ry needs an arc. If you’ve already been sor­did, you don’t want to con­tin­ue. Ah, great. And more sor­did from the­se guys…” you know. No, you need an arc. So, when you’ve been so bad, there’s only one way to go. You’ve got­ta be good. And you know, the Hall of Fame is a fam­i­ly insti­tu­tion.

One of my oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions when— [audi­ence laugh­ter] Hey. That’s what it is. So, hi. Welcome to the fam­i­ly, alright? I’m in the fam­i­ly now. So are The Stooges, and that’s a good thing.

When it was Gavin Brown, the gal­lerist, who wrote me orig­i­nal­ly about Jeremy’s idea. And he also has pro­posed that it would— He sort of spun it, as a gal­lerist will. He said, And then we’ll give the draw­ings to the Smithsonian.” And I thought, Am I George Washington quite yet?” I don’t think I qual­i­fy, you know.

But I inves­ti­gat­ed a lit­tle. He sent me a beau­ti­ful book that Jeremy col­lab­o­rat­ed on called Folk Archive. Alan Lane, was he your—

Deller: Alan Kane.

Pop: Alan Kane was his col­lab­o­ra­tor. It’s a won­der­ful book that treats quirky English folk peo­ple and folk cus­toms. Things like a small vil­lage it has a mon­keys’ tea par­ty once a year. They adver­tise mon­keys tea par­ty tonight!” you know. And they set out the­se lit­tle table for the mon­keys. But they did it with the right blend of humor, casu­al­ness, and seri­ous­ness. A great book. So I liked that—

Healy: And respect.

Pop: Yeah. I liked that. But when I inves­ti­gat­ed a lit­tle far­ther, I real­ized they were going to offer the draw­ings also to the Smithsonian. And I thought, Well those bas­tards will prob­a­bly turn me down.” So anoth­er big part of it was when it came up again, I met Anne Pasternak. She reached out when she was in Miami. And this was some­body… She’s a pis­tol, you know.

Healy: [laughs] She is.

Pop: She had a good ener­gy, and she was def­i­nite about what she want­ed to do. And I thought, Well, Brooklyn… Yeah, I belong in Brooklyn,” you know. I lived in Bensonhurst for a year when I was very poor. Because I couldn’t afford Manhattan any­more. And I used the B train. I lived on 86th Street near 20th Avenue in a ground-floor unheat­ed flat. And it was a great expe­ri­ence. I did the album Zombie Birdhouse at that time. 

The phrase the zom­bie bird­house was my way— I was a lit­tle angry— [Audience laugh­ter; Iggy laughs.] And it was my way of describ­ing how peo­ple live in Manhattan, basi­cal­ly, in the­se… Everybody gets a lit­tle cage in a very large stack of dwellings, and you do what you’re told like a zom­bie and keep going, you know. 

So any­way, final­ly I said, Alright. Let’s do it.” Also, you know, Jeremy keeps doing fine arts. I thought well, this is a good per­son to asso­ciate with.

Healy: Right.

Deller: Thank you.

Pop: Yeah.

Healy: What were you going to say, Jeremy?

Deller: Nothing, I was just say­ing thank you.

Healy: So, I have a hunch that I want­ed try out with you that one of the things you have said about work­ing with the artists who are here… Let’s give anoth­er round of applause to all the artists who are in the show. [audi­ence and pan­elists applaud] One of the things that you say in an inter­view is how this is an exchange that you’re ready for, and the whole sense of pos­ing for oth­er artists. And what struck me is…I’m try­ing to think what that is. And it occurred to me that a real pow­er of why this work is not sim­ply that here’s the body of a celebri­ty. But it’s the bal­ance between its exchange because they have this rig­or and dis­ci­pline and work, and you just talked about it about a job, and you have the same approach to art­mak­ing. It’s not all about spon­tane­ity and imag­i­na­tion, it’s also as a draw­ing class of any­thing teach­es about art. It’s about dis­ci­pline and tech­nique and rig­or, which is…your whole career shows that, too. And that kind of gets lost some­times in a celebri­ty bub­ble. But that aspect of your per­son­al­i­ty and your career show up, I think, in this show.

Pop: I think that I can tell you, at least for me, I’ve been pho­tographed many many many many times. And as the equip­ment gets more sophis­ti­cat­ed it feels more and more like an assault. I mean somebody’s… There’s some­thing mean about it that I don’t like. And I avoid it more and more. Some guy’s got— [makes lout mechan­i­cal sound] It’s a motor dri­ve. He’s got this lit­tle click­er. And it’s incum­bent on you to kind of stand up to that.

But in this sit­u­a­tion, every­body was busy. They were as busy as I was. Because here’s this naked man in front of you, and if you don’t feel any­thing, or if you can’t draw at all, or if you don’t—okay, get down and do the work now because the dude’s gonna leave, then you have noth­ing. So there, they were—each one of them, you could feel was total­ly engaged with his or her self. 

My biggest con­cern going in was…jeez, I… Just like you know, I want­ed to make a good first impres­sion.” It’s a human exchange. So I was con­cerned with how will we meet each oth­er before we start. Or at first I thought may­be I’m sup­posed to walk in, and I was like, Okay, how’s my walkon. Do I walk in with a big cape on and then fling it off.” How do I roll this? 

And then it was Jeremy who sug­gest­ed, Well why don’t we all just meet up first, clothed, in an adja­cent room?” And that was won­der­ful. It was like a nice day in the high school I nev­er went to. That’s what it was like. And every­body was…we had a good time for about fif­teen min­utes meet­ing each oth­er. And then it was like, ah! And I think they felt, hope­ful­ly, like I wasn’t some kin­da dick. And that’s the way I felt about them, too. Then every­thing could pro­ceed, I think.

Deller: Yeah, I think it was impor­tant there was a sort of mutu­al respect between you and the the draw­ers.

Pop: Yeah.

Deller: And it just kind of broke the ice, I think. Because I think there’s prob­a­bly a lot of expec­ta­tion between them and you. And so it was just a relax­ing thing, I thought.

Healy: Now, if I’m right, as many as like a third of the peo­ple until they were told the night before that it’s Iggy Pop, when they were told, about a third didn’t know who you were. 

Pop: Well, peo­ple don’t, you know. I’m not that big a deal. [audi­ence laugh­ter]

Deller: Yes, but that’s inter­est­ing as well. I think it’s good that you have peo­ple who are draw­ing you for your body and who you are, not for any idea of you. [crosstalk] So I think that was impor­tant.

Pop: Yeah.

Healy: Right What was the biggest sur­prise? Because you’ve thought about this for a decade, Jeremy, and then here it is. It’s hap­pened.

Deller: Well, the biggest sur­prise was that it hap­pened. And also that once it start­ed, the atmos­phere was like being in an exam room or a library. It was very stu­dious. Quite intense, I felt. And every­one was real­ly work­ing hard. It was silent, as well. There was no sound at all. It was real­ly very intense.

Healy: For four hours.

Deller: Yeah, four hours. We had breaks, obvi­ous­ly. But it was just very silent, very seri­ous. And every­one took it seri­ous­ly.

Healy: And could you talk about that time? You haven’t posed for that length of time before, have you?

Pop: I’ve done…horrible pho­to ses­sions and music videos, where it goes on and on oh my God. They used to… Much longer, but not as focused or pro­duc­tive, frankly.

Healy: So one of things I was real­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by, because you’re told to hold pos­es for lengths of time and such. And the cura­tor said, Well Iggy got the­se because once he knew the amount of time, he had a song in his head that matched that time.” You could know alright, the pose is going to be up now.

Pop: Yeah. I was con­cerned… I’m not the great­est per­son at sit­ting still. And I knew I was going to have to sit still for twen­ty min­utes, nude, seat­ed, you know, with a bunch of peo­ple con­cen­trat­ing on the what I was going to be able to give them. And I didn’t want to be think­ing… Have thoughts going through my mind like, I won­der if it’s two min­utes or if it’s actu­al­ly sev­en­teen min­utes.” And I didn’t want to— What is the… God. There’s a great guy who does spo­ken word records. And he has one about time, a guy that wakes up in the mid­dle of the night. What’s his name? He’s like, What time is it?” I don’t know what time—”

Anyway, I didn’t want to be think­ing about that. So I know, for instance, the record­ed ver­sion of I Wanna Be Your Dog” takes 3 min­utes and 22 sec­onds or what­ev­er. So all I had to do is I could be sit­ting here like this. You wouldn’t hear it. But in my head it’s like [mouths the open­ing notes and riff of the song]

Healy: Now I get it. Now I get it.

Pop: And you just do the whole thing. And you do the vers­es and the cho­rus. At the end I’d sing the gui­tar lead to myself. I know them by now, you know. And I was just sort of okay, we got a three-and-a-half-minute song, then a six-minute song… And final­ly at one point I said, Is it time?” and then bong! the bell rings

Deller: Yeah, that’s true. Within a sec­ond. He got it with­in a sec­ond.

Pop: I want­ed to see how close. So that was a good way, I thought, to get through it with­out break­ing con­cen­tra­tion because I thought I owed them con­cen­tra­tion for some rea­son. I mean, one thing I noticed in the draw­ings, that every per­son… I’ve seen a lot of fig­ure draw­ings before, and they tend to con­cen­trate on the bod. But every artist gave me a face. 

Healy: Yes.

Pop: They all gave me a face. Bless you for that, you know. Thank you know.

Healy: So, we have a few images here. So this is—

Pop: That was me too damn lazy to go to my room between the takes. I said I’ll just lay down here. I’m nude now, what the hell? And he liked it, so he said, Let’s draw that.” 

Healy: So, who choos­es the pos­es, Jeremy? How does that—

Pop: He did.

Deller: Well, Michael and I— [crosstalk]

Pop: With Mike I think, yeah.

Deller: Michael ran the class. I knew I want­ed a vari­ety. And we had to have a long pose that was seat­ed, real­ly. And some­thing that looked quite hero­ic, I felt, hold­ing some­thing like a sort of a mytho­log­i­cal fig­ure, almost or a war­rior.

Healy: Right.

Deller: But we need­ed a vari­ety. I want­ed to get lots of— To begin with I want­ed like four quick pos­es so I knew I had some draw­ings for the show. Because [if] every­thing else went wrong or you want­ed to leave I just thought at least we’d have some­thing quick­ly. So we had a lot of draw­ings quickly—so we got like songs, like doing songs quick­ly. Almost like hit sin­gles, almost. And then we had the long sort of con­cer­to or sonata, what­ev­er. We have the long piece, and that’s where all the very detailed works came from, the seat­ed ones.

Healy: And Iggy, do you have to just let you go through all of it, or do you feel like, No this pose is gonna suck. This is not gonna work.”

Pop: That wasn’t my place. So what I tend to before I do any—before I work with any­body, I try to think very care­ful­ly about okay, I’ll go over here but I won’t over there because that’s their turf. And also while I might be busy inter­fer­ing with Jeremy, I might be blow­ing a respon­si­bil­i­ty of my own, I’ve learned from expe­ri­ence. So no, I just… You know, the seat­ed pose. I mean, that’s tough because you know…—

Healy: Why is that?

Pop: I’m think­ing, Well. You know…here’s my penis just hanging…hanging over the side of a box, you know.” And you know, it it empha­sizes your mid­dle girth and the whole thing, and oh my god, you know. But, that’s okay. That’s okay. There’s always…

Healy: I think it’s more than okay. These draw­ings are beau­ti­ful and it—

Pop: Well, yeah. There’s always room for a sur­prise in my life. I don’t know how that works, but I just get a lot of good ideas and input from oth­ers [motions toward Jeremy] that I would not be able to get on my own steam.

Deller: Wow, thank you.

Healy: I read once where you actu­al­ly said two impor­tant things you’d learned were… From Mick Jagger that it was about per­for­mance, it was work. Make a per­for­mance, you do a per­for­mance. And from Jim Morrison, you have to have sur­prise for there to be…

Pop: I’d say those are both true and also two dif­fer­ent tra­di­tions. I think James Brown, Tina Turner, any good black church lead­er, preacher, that you see, they work it with the crowd. The more I think about the best per­for­mance I ever saw of Jim Morrison, that was a kind of com­e­dy. There was a lot of com­e­dy in that. And guy had a great sense of humor. He real­ly did. And then he was able to com­bine that with a beau­ti­ful voice and a beau­ti­ful pres­ence. And the band… The band was very fine, you know. He wrote well, as well. I thought he was a good writer. Some peo­ple didn’t but I think he was. Very good. 

But there was com­e­dy in the guy. You know, the first time I saw him, it was a home­com­ing dance, the University of Michigan, in a field house. So it was you know, the men of Michigan with their dates. And the group came out, they’d had a hit. But they hadn’t coa­lesced into a slick work­ing band yet. So they play the first riff and it sounds a lit­tle weedy. And he’s sup­posed to come on after about eight bars. He doesn’t come on and he doesn’t come on.

And when he does—the song was Soul Kitchen.” And when he does come on, instead of singing in his sexy bari­tone, he sang like this. [mim­ics a high-pitched voice] Made the­se ges­tures sor­ta like your cat when it’s rolling on its back. And he was dressed up, dressed to the nines in ruf­fles and leatherette. He had his hair oiled like Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah. I mean, he looked wow. But he was obvi­ous­ly wacked, you know. He was wacked—big pupils but it was beau­ti­ful, you know. And the guys in the front got mad­der and mad­der, because they took this as a an insult because he couldn’t com­plete a num­ber. So they tried anoth­er num­ber. And anoth­er num­ber.

And also it wasn’t at the time their sound. It was smooth on the radio, but as rock music it was rev­o­lu­tion­ary. Because most rock at the time was sup­posed to be more lash­ing and slash­ing and mas­cu­line. This was a not. It’s sen­si­tive stuff. So the crowd start­ed to approach the stage. Things were not going to be pret­ty and it was a short show. 

And the sec­ond time I saw them—

Healy: So you were how old then?

Pop: I was…that was nineteen-six—I was 20. I had just— No, I was either—I think I was 19. I think so. And I just felt like, I was try­ing to get a band togeth­er and fig­ure out how to do some­thing cre­ative. And after I left that show I just said if they can do that I have no more excuse. So it was like that, you know.

And the sec­ond time I saw them it was in Cobo Arena, a large are­na. And they were slick and superb. And had their fin­ger on the but­ton. Well, you know. I remem­ber the lit­tle folk mess bet­ter, you know. That’s nor­mal.

Untitled (Seated Pose) from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Jeremy Deller, Deirdra Hazeley

Healy: So you talked about the face. I love this image because it real­ly looks hewn out of stone. 

Deller: I think I said Mount Rushmore in the book.

Pop: May I see—where is Deirdra? Is she here? [waves] Right on, Deirdra. 

Richard Bernstein, Iggy Pop

Healy: So, you have been pos­ing for a long time. The one image I actu­al­ly want­ed to have was Gerard Malanga, but we can’t use it for… But you speak about that in a real­ly pow­er­ful way about…what is at risk in a cer­tain way. And the cold­ness of that. The kind of theft of that kind of sit­ting. It struck me that there seem some­thing real­ly harsh about it that prob­a­bly—

Pop: This one was tougher than the Malanga.

Healy: Okay.

Pop: Although the Gerard was men­tal­ly tough, this was tough because it was— I think It’s a Richard Bernstein piece, but I think the photo—I think this is Bill King. I think so. And I remem­ber the shoot was like a Vogue shoot. They put you in a white room and it’s a guy whose shot hun­dreds of peo­ple with long necks and what­ev­er they have. And you’re young and you’ve nev­er been to New York City, and so you… You can see I’m kind of try­ing to stand up to this guy a lit­tle bit, you know. With no clothes on. 

But I thought it was impor­tant some­how to me… I just thought it was impor­tant to… I knew I was going to per­form for a liv­ing, for a voca­tion. So I thought part of the out was to doc­u­ment what was at the root of it. In oth­er words no boots, no sad­dle. No hair gel. Whatever it is, you know. So that was why. I did it a cou­ple of times and then left it off until this. I want­ed book­ends, basi­cal­ly.

Healy: So Jeremy, talk a lit­tle bit about this for peo­ple haven’t seen the show yet. There are num­ber of works from the Brooklyn Museum col­lec­tion that are also in the show, all male nudes. And one of them is this Schiele self-portrait that to my mind looked like Iggy.

Deller: It’s amaz­ing, isn’t it? I mean, I always want­ed the exhi­bi­tion to go to a muse­um that had an ency­clo­pe­dic col­lec­tion. I always want­ed the work to be seen in the con­text of world cul­ture, not just—

Pop: As a gift, you said to me, right?

Deller: As a gift, yeah. As a gift. And it would reside in one of those great American muse­ums that has an ency­clo­pe­dic col­lec­tion. Like Philadelphia, Detroit, what­ev­er. And the Smithsonian. But with this, I want­ed to do an exhi­bi­tion the male nude as well, from that col­lec­tion method. And I thought it was impor­tant to show the­se draw­ings to show that they do exist in a con­text, and they’re part of art his­to­ry. And now the­se draw­ings are part of art his­to­ry as well.

And also when you con­sid­er the roots of rock and roll music, it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly Western. It comes from oth­er coun­tries. And I just felt it was inter­est­ing to look up male nudes that looked at reli­gion, that were sacred and pro­fane at the same time. And that’s again some­thing that was very impor­tant to the gen­e­sis of rock and roll. So I just want­ed them to have a real­ly good home in a real­ly great muse­um. And had oth­er great objects in, not just 20th cen­tu­ry European white art, basi­cal­ly.

Having said, that is 20th cen­tu­ry white art. I apol­o­gize. But there are oth­ers, as you know. But it couldn’t be in the Museum of Modern art. It had to be in some­where that had a breadth to it. But also the kind of muse­um you’d go to as a child or as a young per­son and you’d be absolute­ly amazed by a Buddhist tem­ple in one room, some Egyptian sculp­tures, a Renoir, or a Monet, what­ev­er. And you’d go just time trav­el around the world and around time in the muse­um like this, like the Brooklyn Museum basi­cal­ly.

Healy: So Iggy, you and I were talk­ing ear­lier about that. So, when you start­ed draw­ing and paint­ing your­self and you were in Berlin and you had some time, could you talk about that a lit­tle, what that…?

Pop: Yeah, I went— David Bowie took me to a won­der­ful lit­tle muse­um, it’s called the Brücke. And it was on [?], near the American sec­tor. It was a very, very small space. Maybe the entire muse­um, it’s not real­ly big­ger than this full prosce­ni­um. And most of the works were not phys­i­cal­ly large works. And it was Erich Heckel and Schmidt-Rotluff and the whole German Expressionist bunch. 

And I don’t know, it just… I looked at it and you know, I mean it didn’t… They didn’t try at all to be fig­u­ra­tive. But you could just see from the col­or and the slash of the lines and every­thing, it was like yeah, this is what this feels like when I look at it. And that was wow for me, and there was some­thing a lit­tle bit like car­toons about it. Dix is in that muse­um as well, who actu­al­ly draws a lot like a car­toon. So it just spoke to me and I sort of paint like that, kind of. Because I can’t draw the way— I don’t have the eye that the­se won­der­ful peo­ple had. But I have feel­ings about the things I see or what’s going on inside, you know. So I draw that way.

Deller: We have an Erich Heckel in the exhi­bi­tion as well. 

Healy: Yes.

Deller: I don’t know if it’s one of the slides.

Healy: I’m not sure if it’s…

Deller: You don’t have to go…it’s fine. But I mean, I love that work as well.

[Here sev­er­al slides are dis­played ~35:5736:25 while they try to find the image, which turns out not to be avail­able]

Untitled (Caricatures) from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Jeremy Deller, Kinley Pleteau

Deller: I love this one as well, actu­al­ly.

Healy: Yes, talk about this, because you were talk­ing about car­toons.

Deller: Well Kinley did some draw­ings, obvi­ous­ly. But then he was doing some lit­tle car­i­ca­tures. And at the end of the class he was going to throw them in the bin. I think we’ll do some­thing with them, and I just said, Don’t. I want the­se. These are great, to have this. I love the­se.” They’re sort of doo­dles, almost. But I just thought it’s just anoth­er of look­ing at a face and a body, and anoth­er way of draw­ing. And I think he does an ani­ma­tion, so that’s why it has that sort of feel to it, a car­toony feel.

Healy: So when I first saw the works this week, on the wall, it was aston­ish­ing to me because they feel so three-dimensional, and they kind of move. Because there’s a beau­ti­ful book, but those repro­duc­tions are noth­ing like what this is.

Pop: Yeah, it’s total­ly dif­fer­ent.

Healy: What is that? What hap­pens?

Deller: I don’t know, and I think it’s very hope­ful for muse­ums because it means you always will have to go to a muse­um to see some­thing. You can’t just rely on the Internet or books, even. You have to be in a room with a thing and walk around it or get close to it, and see it next to some­thing else. Being in the pres­ence of an art­work, there’s no replace­ment for that, despite how clev­er we are with tech­nol­o­gy.

Pop: That’s true. If you you see the Velázquez in the Prado, it’s not the same to see it in a little…it’s just not the same.

Untitled (Seated Pose) from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Jeremy Deller, Mauricio Rodriguez

Healy: This is an extra­or­di­nary…

Deller: Oh, I love this. Mauricio, yeah.

Healy: What was that like, hold­ing…

Pop: Holding the staff?

Healy: The staff.

Pop: Oh I mean…your thumb starts to throb. There are tech­ni­cal aspects to hold­ing the staff, you know. I didn’t know, I under­stood— I got it. I under­stood well, it could be a scepter, it could be a spear… I thought of it main­ly as some sort of a spear. Or then I thought well, may­be it’s just a device to make vis­i­ble some of the infra­struc­ture of the bod. Because that’s what’s sup­posed to be behind the fig­ures, is the mus­cu­la­ture, the ten­dons and lig­a­ments and organs. So I thought about it briefly, but main­ly I did as I was asked. But when they asked me to do that par­tic­u­lar­ly, I thought ohh, yi yi. And I just did it, you know, like you do. 

Deller: Well thank you. I did want quite an open pose, I sup­pose you’d call it. Because you know, it’s kind of a full-frontal pose. Guno’s draw­ing is some­where. You might want to… He got kind of the best, if you go back. 

Untitled (Seated Pose) from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Jeremy Deller, Guno Park

I mean, obvi­ous­ly that’s kind of the most open pose. And I thought that was impor­tant to have that, you know. You need­ed the arm out.

Can you go to the next pic­ture, actu­al­ly. Is it the Leni Sinclair? 

I bought this pho­tograph in a record shop in Detroit for $2.50. It was stuck on a piece of paper—it was a greet­ings card. And it was signed on the back Leni Sinclair” about ten years ago.

Pop: She’s a great lit­tle artist.

Healy: Yeah. Amazing. And then see this, the tongue. And we were talk­ing about satyrs and wood sprites and all that stuff. And I just thought this is a kind of per­sona, your stage per­sona is real­ly in this pho­tograph, ready-made almost.

Healy: I was think­ing about this, Iggy, when you were say­ing every sto­ry has an art. Because there it is phys­i­cal­ly in a per­for­mance. The arc of the body, the prow of the ship. There’s sur­prise gonna hap­pen in this show.

Pop: Well, I used to do that— I liked watch­ing James Brown and also Joe Tex, who’s very unsung. But James Brown used to do this thing where he would throw the mic stand down, twirl, and when he twirled around he’d have it com­ing back up with a lit­tle foot move­ment, pop pop pop. And I thought well okay, hm. How about if I would dive head-first… I’d try to fig­ure out what’s the length of my own body plus my arms and I’d see if I could dive and catch this mic just before I was gonna hit the deck. And that’s the moment after. Then what I would do… Then I would slith­er up the thing, and I thought hey…that’s a stage move, you know. Honestly, that’s I was doing.

Healy: And indeed it was.

Pop: Hey! You know.

Healy: Actually, you write and talk so beau­ti­ful­ly about this whole range and the exper­i­men­tal nature of a lot of the work you did. I love when you well you know, if you take a vac­u­um clean­er with your thumb, it makes the sound of [crosstalk] whistling wind.

Pop: You can make make the sound of the whistling wind, yeah.

Healy: And you said well, a Waring blender with some water in it got Niagara Falls. 

Pop: What sur­prised me, I nev­er imag­ined when I used those things, I was mak­ing the­se sounds to enhance the very sim­ple wah-wah gui­tar riffs that Ron and Scott were play­ing on bass and drums. Just very pri­mal, sim­ple [mim­ics a short sec­tion of music], a lit­tle funky for white fel­las. But I want­ed to do some­thing besides sing in a sort of monot­o­ne man­ner, as I did at that time and still kin­da do. So I thought well what about some beau­ti­ful sounds? And I thought that when I did the­se things, every­one would con­cen­trate on the sounds, but instead they were like, That guy’s play­ing a vac­u­um clean­er! Oh my god, this is an out­rage.” They play a vac­u­um clean­er. But that’s not a big deal, it was a beau­ti­ful sound.

Later, I got rid of the vac­u­um clean­er and bought an air com­pres­sor when I got a lit­tle mon­ey. Because that was much bet­ter, you know. But that was the idea. The Waring blender was…I had failed at… Harry Partch had some­thing called the Cloud-Chamber. And I tried to build one of those with a broom­stick han­dle and some spring water bot­tles and it crashed one day. 

Healy: You actu­al­ly tried your own Cloud-Chamber, okay.

Pop: Yeah, and I was hit­ting it with lit­tle mal­lets and it was beau­ti­ful, but it was…not stur­dy. So I thought well what about if I just buy a Waring blender—an Osterizer I think it was. So for twenty-seven bucks, put a lit­tle water in it and mic it up, it might— And it did. It sounded…it was beau­ti­ful. You know. To me. 

Healy: It was to me. Jeremy, do you agree with me that this ele­men­tal thing, of that exper­i­men­tal kind of…the way of mak­ing a ges­ture in Iggy’s per­for­ma­tive work is related—it feels like it twins with what the draw­ing class was? What draw­ing is.

Deller: Yes. It’s very basic. It’s sort of the bedrock of art his­to­ry; you know, paint­ing is draw­ing. Also I think his per­for­mances are very I think close­ly relat­ed to a lot of ear­ly per­for­mance art and body art as well, so there’s an influ­ence there. So there’s a lot of art going on, in a sense. But def­i­nite­ly those per­for­mances, and of course ear­ly rock and roll as we know it, is the build­ing blocks of every­thing that’s come since, any­thing with a gui­tar. And you were sort of part of that, the sec­ond wave of that in a sense. So that’s very impor­tant as well. So the ele­men­tal and the drumming—you’re right about the drum­ming, a very funky drum­ming was some­thing that was very impor­tant. So yes, I was inter­est­ed in him and that role that he’s played musi­cal­ly but also sort of phys­i­cal­ly.

Healy: And it was impor­tant for you with the artists who came that not only did they work with the fig­ure but specif­i­cal­ly that they had expe­ri­ence in life draw­ing. Tell us about that.

Deller: What, how we got the peo­ple? How we found the stu­dents, or the par­tic­i­pants?

Healy: Or what their back­grounds were. 

Deller: I want­ed a real mix of peo­ple. I didn’t want to just use one class from one col­lege. I want­ed to use a group of peo­ple. Because I knew then I’d get a diverse group of peo­ple and sort of ages and back­grounds and so on. And also how long they’d been draw­ing for. So I want­ed to have a group of peo­ple that reflect­ed this part the world as well. So that was impor­tant. And that hap­pened almost ran­dom­ly, because we were just look­ing at work and then you see it when they turn up. It’s like wow, we’ve got peo­ple— We didn’t know how old the­se peo­ple were, a lot of them. Or where they were from, or any­thing.

So for me it’s very impor­tant we have a group of Americans look­ing at anoth­er American. And doc­u­ment­ing a fel­low American I thought was real­ly… So in a way it’s a piece about America in the 20th and 21st cen­tu­ry. And that sounds a very grand state­ment, but for me that was a very impor­tant thing, that we had a group of Americans look­ing at one of their fel­low Americans.

Healy: And so, all of your work has real­ly had an expe­ri­ence of com­mu­ni­ty or fam­i­ly or large groups. Was there some dynam­ic that changed over the time? Did the artists influ­ence one anoth­er? Did you feel some­thing that hap­pens…

Deller: I don’t know, you’d have to ask them that. But I think everyone’s so con­cen­trat­ed on their own work—that’s how it seemed. And very very…like I said, a real con­cen­tra­tion. But I think you have a group, there must be a dynam­ic with­in the group, and that helps every­one. And I think every­one seemed to get on very well with each oth­er, and were very sup­port­ive. So the atmos­phere was a real­ly great atmos­phere. It wasn’t tense at all. Maybe a lit­tle bit before, but actu­al­ly every­one was very hap­py to be there. And Iggy spoke to peo­ple in the breaks—

Healy: Did you peek at their draw­ings draw­ings between…

Pop: I didn’t peek, I just went over and looked at them. Yeah, sure. And kin­da want­ed to, I don’t know, I just want­ed to meet peo­ple. So it’s just a nat­u­ral thing, sor­ta, Hi.” Like that, you know. I was inter­est­ed. Yes, I felt real­ly good to be there. And as the thing went on I just felt bet­ter and bet­ter. And it was like… I don’t know what the load was that I got rid of, but it took a load off my mind. Of some sort. It’s some­thing per­son­al, I don’t real­ly get how that works.


Discussion

Tom Healy: So we are going to open up to some questions. Here's a question right here.

Audience 1: Hi, my question is why Iggy Pop?

Jeremy Deller: I can answer questions quite easily. Because I felt there was few bodies in America that have been so public in showing themselves to the American public. I mean, there's obviously some people that do it for money, and in a sense they're just… Now on Instagram and so on, just show their body off. But someone who'd used their body and was willing for their body to be seen over a period of time and to change. And also a body that really embodied—no pun intended—the culture that it came from. That really embodied rock music and was symbolic of it. So I felt it was a hugely important body in America. Probably one of the most, if not the most important body in America. And I felt it had to be drawn. And I felt that drawings could do it justice in a way that photographs can't. And so it wasn't like, I didn't have a list of people to have drawn. It was just one person, basically, I wanted.

Audience 2: Thank you for coming tonight. It's a great project. So I wanted to know if you could talk a bit about your experience posing serenely nude, as opposed to versus your performances where you're always…you know, high-octane performances where you're skirting with the idea of nakedness and what what it felt like for you to go from one extreme to another.

Iggy Pop: Yeah. Well, when I'm working or playing live, then I'm a sort of a technician with feeling. There are both aspects going on. And a lot goes into it. There are a lot of considerations every moment. And I'm definitely putting it out. I'm putting it out and I want it back. But I'm on. In this situation, there was none of that. I didn't think that approach was gonna work for me. I was gonna have to try to… I was going to have to get these people to perform. It was incumbent on… I was going to have to have to try to inspire them? Or trick them? Or do whatever I could do to make them interested enough to perform. And this was something…I just kind of felt it, I didn't think about it.

And I had to put myself in their hands. Completely. Because sure, everybody— You know, there are reasons we don't all walk around with no clothes on all the time. And yet there are societies where people do. But not ours. And that's something to think about right there. So I just tried to drop… I just didn't think about myself in any way, except that I asked for a spot to look at, and then just tried to sit still. And I was trying to make sure I didn't have a sorta… I wanted to make sure there was some energy in my mind so that there would be some in my face. And that, I used the the convention of my songs, where I'm comfortable going through my head, so there would be some expression.

So I was afraid otherwise it would be, "Uhhhhhhhhh…" Because that happens to anyone sometimes. You go slack in the wrong—if you're in the back of a cab for two hours or whatever it is, you know. So that was it. And I felt… I don't know, I felt cleansed of something when I left. And everybody had a big smile at the end of that session. You know, it wasn't like "hee hee hee." It wasn't like that. It was just everybody…I think everybody had a good session. That's what I thought. That's about it. It wasn't a gig.

Healy: So while the next person comes up with a question, I was asked a question just before we got on stage. It was essentially said this way, "You're three white dudes on stage. And this is the Year of Yes for the museum, a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Center for Feminist Art and a look at women in the arts. And so how does this show… How is it part of that?" Jeremy, yeah.

Deller: Oh, you want me to answer that question.

Healy: Yes, go right there.

Pop: Jeremy is the mastermind of this, I'm just the model.

Deller: For me personally, it was never intended to be that. But you know, it's an exhibition about a body. It's about a body that sort of in some ways has been under the amount of intense scrutiny that only usually women's bodies are. And it was quite interesting when we had some comments on social media when we did this, when we released some photographs. And some people were saying, "That's great," and some people were saying, "Oh my God. What's going on? This body…this guy, why are you drawing him?" And in a way you sort of got an idea of what it is for a woman to be examined and sort of be judged on a body of a certain age and a certain way. But I would say really it's more…it's a show about a body, and and about the sexuality of that body as well. How it's been viewed through time. So I can't exactly answer your question, but I always saw it I suppose as a sort of…there's another element of kind of an asexual element about it as well, about the body, about the way it's used.

Pop: I partly had an answer which I think is question more than answer as well. But I think there's a really brilliant pairing of this show with Marilyn Minter's terrific exhibition that's opened down the hall from this. And there will be a number programs with her. She's an extraordinary artist. I hope she's here. But part of what seems to happen is that there is a conversation of, what Marilyn does so brilliantly is take control of a number of the tropes and abuses and controls that the male gaze, or even the commercialization of the women's body from the male gaze, has done to it and made extraordinary art from it. And the art made from you is actually this vulnerability about that male control and turning it over.

Pop: That was the word I would've used. I think…someone named Francis, what's her last name, that wrote the wonderful—

Deller: She's probably here, and I can't, it's Bowles…? There she is.

Pop: Is that you? Hey. She wrote a very perceptive and interesting history of life drawing in the middle of the of the booklet for this thing.

Healy: It's terrific.

Pop: And I learned that this started out in the Renaissance as a kind of a— Your task was to illustrate beautifully what they thought was the important history of mankind, which was always the religion and the great heroes and blah blah blah. It had to be beautiful, it had to be technically superb. And this, it was always men that were the objects. You could not do it, never never a woman, for a whole lot of reasons. First because women were considered inferior specimens. Because they were fleshy and whatever.

And then that somehow things switched. Much later things switched over, and the idea in France of the boheme and you know, she's my model but also my lover. And then the male gaze of course and the whole fashion industry of today comes from that. And then she sort of put, "and with this exhibition, in steps Iggy Pop." So where does that come in?

And I knew that at sixty-nine years old, I was not going to be… This was not going to work if I tried to make myself the object of the male gaze. I did that pretty well when I was twenty-nine years old. This is different, you know.

Healy: I don't know, I think you're pretty hot, Iggy.

Pop: Well thank you. So yeah, I think the chick has always been in the vulnerable position. But you know, it's kind of fun, guys. You should try it.

Audience 3: Hi, Iggy.

Pop: Hi!

Audience 3: Hi. So it's not really a question, but I'm here representing a Japanese [?] to ask you to come to Japan to have a show as a part of Post Pop Depression. So I collected a thousand petition from Japanese fans. So may I pass here?

Pop: She has a bunch of signatures on a petition?

Healy: Yeah, I guess so.

Pop: Bless you. Thank you.

Audience 3: Please come to Japan.

Pop: Alright. Thank you. Bless you.

Audience 4: Hey, Iggy.

Pop: Hey, man.

Audience 4: Personally I just want to say thanks for all the music because man you made my life so much better.

Pop: Hey, alright.

Audience 4:And I really can never thank you enough for it. I've done the live model thing before. Were you cold?

Pop: You do what, you do model things?

Audience 4: I did it twenty years ago.

Pop: You used to be a model.

Audience 4: I did it like twice. And I was really cold. That's what I remember. So I was just asking, were you cold during your…

Pop: Oh, cold. It was a little cold in there, yeah. They did try to give me a break, I remember. They talked about that due to my you know, well. They give me a break. It wasn't that bad. Wasn't that bad. You got the short end of the stick, eh?

Healy: Well we got the long end of the stick. So thank you Iggy, thank you Jeremy.

Anne Pasternak: It was really really cold in them there, so it gives you a sense of how impressive Iggy is.

So I wanted to answer Tom's question for a second, because all of their answers were great, about how this fits into a year of feminism. As you know at the Brooklyn Museum we're celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. For an entire year we're devoting the museum to the lens of feminism. But it's not a feminism of of my generation or my mother's generation or my grandmother's generation. It's a feminism for the future, that takes a look at gender equity, inclusion, and equity at large. It's a civil rights movement and so everybody fits into this movement. Everybody fits into feminism.

So I want you to know that Marilyn Minter is doing a marathon of interviews here next week. We hope to see you back again. If you haven't seen the Jeremy Deller/Iggy Pop Life Class exhibition, it's up on the fifth floor. I urge you to see it. It's fantastic. And also Marilyn Minter's show. And I thank you all for joining us tonight, and thank you Jeremy for your brilliant vision, thank you Iggy for all the inspiration, and Tom.

Further Reference

Event and exhibition listings, at the Brooklyn Museum site


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