Gilbert and George: Scapegoating Pictures for Belfast
'SCAPEGOATING PICTURES for Belfast' is the first significant presentation of work by Gilbert and George in Ireland since their attention-grabbing exhibition at Ormeau Baths Gallery in 1999.
Occupying all three of The MAC's gallery spaces, this large-scale exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of Gilbert and George's collaborative practice, which began when they met as students at St Martin's School of Art, London in 1967. Since this time, they have created work collaboratively, declaring themselves to be 'two people, one artist'.
From early on, Gilbert and George (born 1943 and 1942 respectively) distinguished little between their lives and their art, presenting themselves as 'living sculptures'. Their assertion that artist and artwork were one – or rather than an artist might be an artwork – heralded a radical expansion of the understanding of sculpture from an object-based practice to one that incorporates the entirety of lived experience.
On the one hand, Gilbert and George's work is profoundly intimate, often incorporating images of their own bodies – sometimes nude or represented via bodily fluids – and draws intensely on their own lives. On the other hand, they present an expansive, outward-looking view of the society we live in and a meditation on the complexity of human experience. This relation of the personal to the wider society has been no better exemplified than in their ongoing concentration on the East End of London, which has been both their home and their muse for decades. The artists have described their local area as the world in microcosm, stating, 'nothing happens in the world that doesn't happen in the East End'. Constituting both a form of self-portraiture and a portrait of the wider humanity, their images drawn from life in this part of London speak to themes of religion, sexuality, race, identity and belonging, with their philosophy 'Art for All' rooted firmly in the social fabric of this urban landscape.
The body of work presented in this exhibition draws upon the same geographical source and fundamental themes, unflinchingly describing the volatile, tense, accelerated and mysterious reality of our increasingly technological, multi-faith and multi-cultural world.
Admission to the exhibition is free for all.
Directions to The MAC
The MAC is in Saint Anne's Square (right behind St. Anne's Cathedral and beside the University of Ulster) in Belfast's bustling Cathedral Quarter. Our main entrance is off the square, but you can also pop in via Exchange Street West. We're just a short walk from the centre of Belfast and easy to reach, whatever mode of transport you use. By foot: View the MAC Map - themaclive.com/visiting-the-mac/location By car: You can park securely at Saint Anne's Square multi-storey car park, which is on Edward Street right beside the MAC. The car park is open 24 hours. By bus: The nearest bus stop is at the University of Ulster, York Street. Services to this stop include the Airport Express 300 to Belfast International Airport. By train: Great Victoria Street or Central train stations are the handiest. Visit the Translink website for full public transport information for Belfast.