Saturday, 26 January 2013

Ten Things Gilbert & George Might Have Called Themselves

Olympus XA2 / Kodak Tri-X 400

Snow in England. One half-day of winter wonderland followed by a week of cold mud. Which gives me a chance to write. From 1998 until early 2001 iconoclastic British art duo Gilbert and George had a website, at (archive link), and I remember asking them (or their representative) via email whether they had argued over the billing of their names. The reply was that the pair had occasionally advertised themselves as George and Gilbert, during their early years, but that they never fought.

I lived in London at the time. I could have walked past their house. But I never did. Here is Gilbert, painting his railings, captured by the Google Street View car. Now he is gone, although the railings remain. Why did he pick that colour? It doesn't match the other railings.

But he's an artist, his mind moves in mysterious ways. Or perhaps he had no green paint left. See, it's easy to forget that artists are constrained by the resources they have to hand. A hundred years after the young Jacques Henri Lartigue started recording the world around him with a camera, no-one considers the photographs he was unable to take, or those he took because he could, not because he wanted to. Gilbert and George are popular and successful and presumably have some money tucked away, but perhaps the local paint shop was shut, or they're very frugal people who refused to let a can of blue paint go to waste. So much we will never know.

And so I present to you my brand new invention, Ten Things Gilbert and George Might Have Called Themselves if They Had Not Called Themselves Gilbert and George, Which They Did. Thirteen long years in the making. Was it worth it? Yes, it was worth living for.

Ten Things Etc Themselves Etc
1. Mister Mouse and Master Moth
2. Gilbergeorge
3. The Gee Pees
4. Chickenwing + Radarfinger
5. The Gatling Cocks
6. George and Gilbert
7. For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched This Guy (Semaphore Your Love)
8. Big Shit, Little Turd
9. The Best!
10. AND

11. Ggielo Bregret
12. Get'd an egg broiler!
13. meGGaforza

Other lists:
The Most Efficient Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover ("Go, Jo" is the winner)
Ten Songs with "Baby" Replaced by "Hitler" ("Hitler, Can I Hold You Tonight" is my favourite)

Director's Commentary

Yeah, you're wondering how I came up with those suggestions. I'll explain:

1. This is just silly.
2. Although they are a duo, they present themselves as a single entity. Thus I have merged their two names.
3. This is a reference to the Bee Gees; both Gilbert and George have surnames that begin with a P.
4. This is a reference to the works of Captain Beefheart, particularly his late-period album Doc at the Radar Station.
5. G, C, geddit? Also, there's something vivid about that mental image.
7. They came together in the 1960s. The same decade that gave us Dukes of Stratosphear, who might have used this as a song title.
8. They had a line in self-depreciation.
11. More of #2, but with alternating letters.
12. This is an anagram of "Gilbert and George", and is something they might have done in real life.
13. The duo became popular in the 1980s, and often dealt with urban topics; and Gilbert is from Italy.

Death be damned, life!