Art and life seemingly coexist, or that is what Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker believes. He sets out his thesis in Journeys into the Outside with Jarvis Cocker, a documentary series hoping to detail the distinguishing factors of everyday art in life and living around it. Architecture is art, but most pay no attention to it. Cocker goes a little deeper, a little madder than that. Studying rocks and beachfronts where the art is in the everyday normalities gives this Channel 4 documentary a new angle to behold. Cocker, the natural documentary host given his voice and his ability to mark intricacies of generally unknown areas, matches up with a tour of European art and an American tour of sincerely fascinating proportions.
As reliant as it is on Cocker’s personality as it is on the bizarre art he finds, Journeys into the Outside finds itself in decent company with the strange and surreal. It feels very Channel 4, and whether that is a compliment or not depends on the perspective of their filmmaking. The usual pontifications and vague assessments lend themselves more to interpretation than detail. You can’t expect someone to live in another personality. It is why people are so keen to renovate, to make their personality a staple of their homestead. Engaging with that and the history behind the individual is an interesting turn, and Cocker steers viewers toward some thoroughly interesting characters.
Journeys into the Outside is a journey into how objects can be interpreted, and how art can be subjective. There is a scene where a Ukrainian artist who relocated to France states his love for a rock. The beauty of the piece doesn’t affect the documentarian, but it does more for the man in ownership than for anyone else. Is that not true for other objects some hold near and dear, but others will find disruptive or passive? There isn’t as much focus on that angle as there should be, but considering the pockets of joy that come from it, there is more than enough to engage with. It’ll work for some and alienate others. There’s no accounting for taste, is there? There’s more to art than the stuff hanging on gallery walls after all.
With its loose and free trip through awkward oddities and artists sharing in their passion not for the specifics but for the meaning of what is possible. Cocker forms a very interesting documentary that would be perfect for whittling away a lazy Sunday. That does feel like the sentiment at the heart of this series. Cocker’s barbarian-like structure of journalism is a fascinating display. From yelling “bonjour” at a man named Monsieur Chomo over a fence in the hopes of gaining his attention, wielding a guitar, bottle of port and what looks like the leg of a telescope. No luck. But much fun for the audiences wanting to discover a bit more of the surreal and strange artists that litter the world. There are more out there than first thought, coasting by and making a living in the bizarre. Journeying into the outside shows that, and engages with it comfortably.