Best Before Death review – KLF's Bill Drummond bakes cakes for the world

The peppery artist and musician embarks on a quest to create performance art across the globe in this engaging, sometimes hilarious documentary

Paul Duane’s intriguing and sometimes hilarious documentary is about artist and musician Bill Drummond – formerly of the pop band the KLF – who is now on what he describes as The 25 Paintings World Tour. Starting at Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham, the tour will take in 12 cities, in each of which Drummond will create and enact various performance-art pieces, including crossing a bridge banging a drum, getting a shave, baking cakes (and handing them round), shining people’s shoes and making a bed from locally sourced wood and giving that away.

It is all about the process, not the product, and in so far as all this is leading to an artwork, it is the resulting portfolio of photographs that are being taken – though Drummond is himself unsure about this part of things.

Duane’s film follows him in Kolkata and Lexington, and interestingly conveys Drummond’s difficult, peppery, supercilious side. When bemused members of the public ask him reasonable questions, he sometimes behaves like a polite VIP nearing the end of his tether at how stupid people are – and comes close to outright Alan-Partridge-type rudeness.

There is a terrifying moment when Drummond describes his plan to do the tour in Jerusalem and then go on to Damascus, adding that this isn’t going to happen until 2025, by which time he hopes that peace will be restored. We all hope that, but it would perhaps be prudent to wait until complete calm has been re-established.

At the very end, however, Drummond says something brilliant, something that should be on T-shirts: “Life is too short to be wasted on the pursuit of happiness.” And that explains a lot about Drummond and his Zen creative quest: not for happiness, but for the circumstances in which happiness will come to him.

• Best Before Death is released in the UK on 23 September.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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