frieze video - 14 Dec 2018

Jarvis Cocker’s Old Bar of Imperial Leather Soap

‘Maybe speaking about it will free me, and maybe this means I can get rid of it’

1:52

Struck by the urge to tidy his life up, former Pulp frontman, Jarvis Cocker found an old bar of Cusson’s Imperial Leather Soap in his house. Well-used and with a wrinkled label, he kept it because ‘Cussons were altering the label design, and I don’t like change; this is something that’s been consistent with me throughout my life.’

The bar of soap has a series of evocative associations, not least with luxury. As Cocker explains: ‘Cussons, they had a line of advertising in the mid-’70s, when I was a child, which emphasised the luxury nature of the soap and they would have people in very, very extravagant bathrooms.’

But there are also personal associations for the musician. His grandparents used the particular brand: ‘When I smell the scent of the soap, I’m back in this bathroom in Dronfield.’

‘There are quite a lot of associations that go along with this small, rather inconsequential kind of thing.’

Jarvis Cocker is a British musician, actor and presenter. Formerly frontman of Pulp, Cocker has since presented a BBC Radio 6 Music called Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service and is now touring with his new musical project ‘JARV IS…’. Cocker’s new book This Book is a Song will be published by Jonathan Cape in Autumn 2019.  

‘The Thing’ is a new series of eight short films starring Jarvis Cocker, Neil Tennant, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Goshka Macuga, Jeremy Scott, Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Mack and Haegue Yang. For the series, Frieze asked each artist to choose a single object of significance from their working or living environment and discuss what makes it special. Directed by Peter Strickland and produced by Jacqui Edenbrow, the series is based on a long-running frieze d/e magazine column, ‘Das Ding’, featuring artists such as Brian O'DohertyAdrian Piper and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Read all the previous series’ respondents here.