Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gilbert & George - Jack Freak Pictures

For the first time in months, I called my mother. She asked me if I was yet attending meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses again. I giggled a little, then stopped and wondered for a second whether the Witnesses might miraculously have leaned back from their traditional stance on homosexuality, in line with some other Christian denominations, in which case I would have gone back like a shot, if only for the sake of belonging. If it’s good enough for Prince…

She graciously offered to put a little money into my account to tide me over while I searched for a job. A couple of days later I was due to complete a trial shift at a small American-style diner in Soho, but had a couple of hours in hand, so I walked to White Cube Mason’s Yard to browse the Gilbert & George show, an ideal way, I thought, for an amateur yet earnest art critic to fill negative time, viewing work that is more an entertaining spectacle than profound comment, as the artists traditionally purport, with nudity and exposure of bodily functions in bright colours on large-format, to attack us with a statement of the now, a pop manifesto.

‘Jack Freak Pictures’, retains the pair's cheeky signature ‘look’, with succinct titles prominent in the style of the streetsigns of their beloved East London, but it seems that everywhere I look there are vaginas, perhaps a delusion of my mother’s spiritual presence around me. Four-and-a-half years after me she gave birth to dizygotic twin girls. There is almost perfect symmetry in these kaleidoscopic works, but not quite. The artists, a little-and-large couple who dress in tweeds and brogues and finish each other's sentences, are almost the same, but not quite.

The show juxtaposes medals of honour and sporting achievement with the ageing physique, and furthermore, the celebration of the physical prime presages the anticipated hybridisation of the human body. Allusions to viscera abound with the wiry branches of winter trees resembling nerves and veins, and with the repeated icons of holly and ivy. The artists even find time to hang with the dying Christ and baulk with serpentine tongues, as Morrissey once did, that ‘the Church, all they want is your money (the Queen is dead, boys…)’

Having said that, their next comment is against Islam, in line with the tit-for-tat Zeitgeist (I liked it all so much I jumped on the bus to White Cube Hoxton Square). In ‘Sunni’, only the artists’ eyes are shown. A tribute is made to a martyred young Muslim homosexual, or so I understood it. Homosexuality and religion – despite the small crack in the dam that has allowed through a small trickle of gay marriages and promotions within the clergy – still scarcely mix, so we are urged to ‘Stuff Religion’ and shun belonging, appropriating instead ourselves as idols of worship. The exhortation is to make the most of oneself. Sorry mum, I have to disappoint you again.

2 comments:

  1. i'll try n hobble on down...

    ReplyDelete
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