Artist Jeremy Deller’s 2001 “Battle of Orgreave” – restaging a violent clash of the 1984 UK miners’ strike
In 2001 UK artist Jeremy Deller restaged the Battle of Orgreave, a violent 1984 clash between Yorkshire miners and police during the UK miners’ strike, and one of the many dark events of the Thatcher years. 2001 was an interesting moment to choose for such a restaging; this incident of the Thatcher years was 17 years past and not at the front of anyone’s consciousness. Perhaps this very amnesia was part of Deller’s motivation. In the historical reconstruction he employed 800 people, including 284 local community members many of whom had actually been involved in the strike and even the clash itself. In some cases those who had been miners played police in the reconstruction, and vice versa. The restaging was filmed by director Mike Figgis for a Channel 4 TV documentary.
The death of Maggie Thatcher this week brought Deller’s piece to mind again, since Thatcher was of course the origin of those dire events in Yorshire. It’s a brilliant, affecting artwork. This is probably an unauthorized video (not mine) and I’m not sure how long it will stay up, so it’s worth watching while you can.
Deller won the Turner Prize in 2004.