For his residency at ArtPace Jeremy Deller has tackled Texas—not just the mythical American state described in newspapers, but also the reality he discovered while living in San Antonio for two months. With ArtPace as home base, Deller has visited bat caves and other local haunts, traveled to the now-famed town of Crawford, and spoken with a survivor of the Branch Davidian disaster in Waco. Deller’s Memory Bucket mixes and re-mixes the Texas paraphernalia, live interviews, sound samples and photographs he has gathered along the way. The resulting installation features a video, photographic prints, souvenir t-shirts, beer koozies, and bumper stickers that allude to the social, political, and natural elements he has uncovered.
Upon visiting Texas Deller was taken with the physical proximity of two of its most infamous spots. Put on the map by the presidential Bush family, Crawford is a small ranching town that represents Texas, if not America, at its most patriotic. Yet just minutes away lies another site of international repute—Waco. Nearby Mount Carmel is the location of the Branch Davidian compound, the site of a widely critiqued 1993 government siege which resulted in a deadly fire.
Memory Bucket’s main component is a video. The work features interviews with people from Crawford and Waco interspersed with footage that folds in other aspects of Texas. The garbled speech of an Alamo representative tells the “heroic story of the last stand” and segues from one town to another. Anti-Bush protestors in San Antonio are followed by sequences of the president’s hometown.
In the closing moments of the video, Deller shifts emphasis from humankind to the natural world, from the individuals who make up the state to the creatures who depend on its unique topography. Perhaps this is a telling conclusion to Memory Bucket—a project that, by chance and choice, brings people together to tell a story about Texas.