Interview: Dazed Digital
Jeremy Hutchison presents his Freud-referencing Christmas windows at Browns' South Molton boutique.
by Alla Taha
Published in Dazed Digital, 6th December 2010.
Christmas windows are normally parodies of excess, loud, over the top and tasteless. Yet Browns' is an almost empty but quietly alluring display. Trained in Linguistics, artist Jeremy Hutchison lets text dominate the layout, using an inverted take on classic window-dressing to mirror Browns' fashion-forward approach. The word play is based on Sigmund Freud's pleasure principle. It's a window that faces you head-on and says 'please'. Working closely with Head of Creative and Visual Rebecca Gaon, the display is a nonchalant take on commerciality and window shopping. The installation comprises a red neon window display, and a video piece (playing with CCTV) and vinyl on changing room mirrors...
How did you end up working with Browns?
My friend Gina at Agnew's Gallery put me in touch. She said Brown's wanted to give the Christmas shoppers a jolt. That's just what I do: I take the stuff of everyday life - shopping, advertising, transport - and mess it up. I try to stop things making sense. My work looks like something you recognise, but somehow its all wrong.
Are you a faithful customer? Fave Browns Brand?
Honestly, I never actually went into the shop, so I couldn't say I'm very faithful! My favourite Brown's designer is Martin Margiela. I like the way he inverts the fashion industry. He turns clothes inside-out, reveals the seams, hides the label, then vanishes from the media. He's rather like an undercover agent who deconstructs the industry from within. I think those are the most interesting subversives; the gracious ones that politely mess with your expectations.
What inspired the Browns Focus window?
I wanted to flip the idea of a shop window. A shop window is a facade. And while the word facade means 'front of a building', it also means 'deception'. So I decided to do the opposite. Rather than making a window that was about glamour and deception, I wanted to make one that was honest and polite - to the point of absurdity. It's a window that faces you head-on and says please. I thought it was kind of sweet; we're in a recession.
What's the meaning of 'please' in this context?
'Please' is the basis of everything we do - especially at Christmas. We want to please ourselves. We want to please our lovers, our employers, our families. We want them to please us back. We want to please the law, the economy, the Lord our God. Human beings are trapped in this psychic hamster-wheel of pleasure. And consumerism is its axis. Its tragic and funny, in equal measures.
You have a background in advertising - how did you end up doing art?
I was always making art. For me, working in advertising was a research period. Like a spy, I went in to understand the machine, to figure out how to write TV commercials and taglines, where to place the logo, how to sell an idea with PowerPoint. I learnt how contemporary myths are made. It was rather like working in the upper management of a well-run religion.
Is all of your art linguistically graphic?
Yes and no. My work is all about the language of our times - visual language, body language, social language. I try to confuse these languages, to give ordinary things new meanings: I saw bicycles in half, I put billboards in the British Museum, I drive around roundabouts for hours, I put money into ATM machines. Basically, I try to jolt the logic of everyday life, to wake myself up… and hopefully my audience too. Very politely, I want to trip them up, to ask them to choose their reaction to the world, rather than blindly accepting it. I suppose my work is the search for a kind of freedom.
What's next for you?
Well, it's another project in a shop. Earlier this year, I took Heal's brand identity and turned it into the iconography of a totalitarian state. I wanted to critique the way that modernist design makes us behave: like polite robots. Curiously, my critique was licensed by the brand itself. Heal's commissioned the designs to be mass-produced across an entire product range: plates, cups, bowls, jugs, mugs, teapots, cushions, rugs, linen, lampshades, doormats, candles, notebooks, chocolate bars, bags, mints. Launching in February - an institutional critique… assimilated by the institution itself. I'm still getting my head around it! I'm currently completing a Masters in Fine Art at the Slade. I'll be graduating in June 2011.