artist / participant
The conflict between religion and radically secular social relationships is in the limelight at the moment. On 7 May, the Bonnefantenmuseum has opened the exhibition SONOFAGOD PICTURES Was Jesus Heterosexual? in which the British artists’ duo, Gilbert & George, add extra fuel to the flames. On display is a series of twenty recent works full of Celtic and Moorish symbols with the visual impact of Gothic stained-glass church windows. The exhibition was also presented from 20 January to 25 February 2006 in the White Cube Gallery, London.
Gilbert & George (1943 the Dolomites, Italy / 1942 Devon, England) are major representatives of conceptual art created in the late 1960’s. Their work has always had a high level of abstraction (The Living Sculptures), but it has never been lacking in humour. The basis of much of their work and the source of social comment and fierce controversy is their homosexual proclivity. Though they choose a succinct form and a reserved attitude, the message is always clear.
The SONOFAGOD PICTURES appear to have ‘sprung’ from dark rituals and an upset balance. These pictures are in the minority, however, as the works appear to be linked rather by an exuberant joy. Only a couple of works have a plainly blasphemous character. In most cases, the images have not been manipulated, or hardly at all, and only the title of the work points the viewer in a particular direction. Extravagance, gold and valuables are the background for a battle between the Devil and God, heaven and earth. Never before has outward display and inner conflict been portrayed in this way.
Sometimes art chooses to make a social statement. Recently, Thomas Hirschhorn stated his critical attitude loud and clear in this museum as well. Art is an excellent way of expressing humanism and freedom and thus forms a platform on which opinions and ‘credentials’ are not reduced to a state of ideology and dogma. The museum is a venue where social processes and standpoints can resound in the clearest tones.
Gilbert & George
Was Jesus Heterosexual?