Humour is one theme of Gilbert & George's show, Jack Freak Pictures, but beneath this jovial veneer is a seriousness that refers to society on a very local level. The giant Union Jacks don't discomfort me as much as the nationalistic displays outside that NF-style pub on Valette Street in Hackney; however, they act as a reminder of what the flag means to those who cling to it as the rest of society blows away in the wind. In this sense, by mimicking the utilisation of the flag during times of unity (such as the World Cup or the Olympics even), G&G have created a contemporary cultural critique that's enacted in an eerie East End way.
Homey, a kaleidoscopic view of the street layout around Spitalfields locates the exhibition on G&G's home turf. The pair might be considered catalysts for the trendy takeover of this part of the city, where they have lived and worked for over forty years. Street signs frame the title of each work and the exhibition splits into two topics united under the flag. Nettle Dance and Night Moves might refer to the entertainment culture of the area referenced in Homey, as the pair are caught in the act of some youthful escapades, legs cocked in typical hilarious parody.
Meanwhile, Christian England, Stuff, Religion and Britainers, reference an alternative form of allegiance, belittled as they're communicated with teenage angst. Associating the latter with the former puts the cultural relevance of each on the same page whilst suggesting the superfluous nature of them both.
Thus, interpreting G&G's amusement and cynicism towards these present aspects of East End life like this leads to the conclusion that Bleeding Medals is a nod towards the future; indicating their attitude to the next big event in this part of town... (Images from top to bottom: Gilbert & George, Night Moves, 2008, 226.5 x 190.5cm; Christian England, 2008, 254 x 528.5cm, Nettle Dance, 2008, 151 x 190.5 cm. Courtesy of Gilbert & George, and White Cube, London.)
(Images from top to bottom: Gilbert & George, Night Moves, 2008, 226.5 x 190.5cm; Christian England, 2008, 254 x 528.5cm, Nettle Dance, 2008, 151 x 190.5 cm. Courtesy of Gilbert & George, and White Cube, London.)
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