G I L B E R T & G E O R G E
S C A P E G O A T I N G
Gilbert and George are a pair of artists that have been working together to create art work for a number of decades. Their latest show at White Cube gallery in Bermondsey was centred around ‘scapegoating’ certain groups within society, namely Islam. Imagery of burkas and bomb casings litter their work which touches upon culturally insulting stereotypes. However Islam is not the sole focus of this show, Gilbert and George are able to touch upon these heavy topics whilst still including amusement. Personally I find art which heavily relies on politics to make it interesting quite hard to commend however Gilbert and George use political imagery for comical effect without being very offensive.
The work itself are huge prints displayed on a white wall. There are a large amount of reused visual components through out the whole exhibition. Which is to say that it is not subject to each room, this signifies a strong link between all of their work and a unity within this exhibition. This idea of consolidate amount of work contrasts the amount of work. The sheer amount of these repetitive black, white and red prints show some level of experimentation. Thus questioning if this is all the work that was produced. There seems to be endless combinations of these components that can create endless compositions, so why stop there? Due to the fact that we get an air of experimentation it makes the whole exhibition lighter and more playful but still maintaining a distinct finality to the work.
The curation of the space as well is nearly as interesting as the work itself. As you enter the building there is a long corridor with text pasted onto the walls, off of this corridor is individual rooms holding the bulk of the work. By including the text pieces it makes the exhibition more accessible. Having ongoing large scale photographs would be slightly overwhelming and would make all of the rooms mould into one. The more white blank space there is the easier it is for the viewer to take in and understand what they're seeing. The poems also give the viewer some context which I always find very useful when visiting an art gallery.
Although text is used within the prints themselves. Most of the huge graphic work which was displayed on the wall were named humorous things such as 'Bethnal Green', 'Euphoria' or 'Arsenal'. By including these seemingly unrelated titles in the actual photographs themselves it gives the viewer a branch. Instead of looking on these pieces in abject confusion, the text makes the viewer draw connections between what they are seeing and what they believe they mean. All of the large pieces are so similar in colour and (sometimes) composition, by using dramatically different words on each piece it makes them all unique.
In conclusion, Gilbert and George here display a collection of works that are repetitive but unique, heavy but humorous and overwhelming but accessible. They have created a space that uses contradiction to engage the audience and make them think. This concept even goes as far as to incorporate the name into it as well. By calling the show ‘scapegoating’ the audience expects to see a clear victim, however Gilbert and George do not make that victim clear thus creating even more confusion for the viewer. This exhibition was interesting to review because by not being completely enthralled by the work it was easier to critique it. This show was highly enjoyable from a visual point of view but when it comes to understanding all of the little details that Gilbert and George included, a level on analysis must be applied.