Francis Alÿs, The Modern Procession, 2002, Photographic documentation of an event, New York, New York City, June 23, 2002, Video; 7 minutes 22 seconds; colour; sound, © Francis Alÿs, In collaboration with Public Art Fund and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Courtesy David Zwiner, New York.

Everybody Loves a Parade — Culture, Identity, and Politics

Amy O’Neill, Ghost Float, 2004, Floral sheeting, vinyl fringe, and vinyl twist festooning, wooden construction, Courtesy of the artist and Le Consortium.


Parasol unit
foundation for contemporary art
14 Wharf Road
+ 44 207 490 7373
Parades and Processions:
Here comes everybody

May 28-July 24, 2009

Parades and Processions: Here comes everybody features works by 12 international artists who take their inspiration from the traditional meanings of "parades" and "processions," creating works that epitomize the social and political context of our time. The resulting works, ranging from sculpture to installation, films and videos, are powerful forms of expression that address issues of history, culture, identity and politics. They also highlight the recent and increasing phenomenon in our society of holding parades and processions. This exhibition aims to show a selection of works by contemporary artists who see in these themes considerable possibilities for expression.

The works of the following artists are featured in the exhibition: Francis Alÿs, Fiona Banner, Jeremy Deller, Thomas Hirschhorn, Rachel Hovnanian, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, William Kentridge, Michèle Magema, Annette Messager, Amy O’Neill and Hiraki Sawa.

A "parade" is usually a festive occasion for which people dress up in extravagant costumes and create elaborate and highly structured artefacts, while a ‘procession’ is more often an organised group of people proceeding in a formal or ceremonial manner, often with a religious or political connotation. Throughout civilisation, parades and processions have been integral to the human experience and social customs have been abundantly illustrated on ancient monuments. Often connected to religious, sacrificial or triumphal occasions they eventually evolved into festivals and carnivals. Nowadays parades and processions have become democratic activities in which people participate, interactively sharing a special experience with a group of like-minded people. They have become the perfect vehicle for communication and solidarity, and also raise questions about sociological and behavioural phenomena of our time, such as the increased surge in urban life, group selection, self-expression and the marked focus on the body.

The expressive power of parades and processions allows many contemporary artists to adopt these traditional themes, and by replacing some of its emblems and icons with other symbols and objects, bring new meaning to the work. In so doing they revitalise the concepts of parades and processions, which in the past have been considered formal traditions. In their quest to create new ways to express themselves, these artists have benefited greatly from the efforts of those artists who in the 1960s and early 1970s, liberated art from the museum walls and placed it in the midst of society and public spaces in the form of happenings and performances.

Jeremy Deller, Veterans Day Parade, 2002, DVD 14 minutes + photographs, Colour photograph, 28 x 36cm, Courtesy of Art: Concept, Paris and the artist.

Thomas Hirschhorn, The Procession, 2005, Exhibition view: Carried Away - Procession in Art, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, 2008, Courtesy the artist.