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Gilbert and George have lost their bottom over the burka

17 July 2014

Let’s brood, shall we, on the following report in the Evening Standard about an exciting new departure by the winsome duo, Gilbert and George, on the back of their new exhibition, called ‘Scapegoating Pictures’ for London which opens tomorrow at the Bermondsey White Cube Gallery:

‘The artists Gilbert and George feature women in burkas in their new exhibition reflecting the changing face of the East End, their home for decades. 

The veiled figures feature in giant photomontages demonstrating the artists’ long-standing hostility to all religions which they believe “terrorise” people. 

They appear alongside images of the artists themselves and a string of typically foul-mouthed slogans urging “molest a mullah” and “f*** a vicar” as well as “jerk off a judge”. 

George Passmore, 72, said: “We’ve always been wrongly accused of choosing the soft target of Christianity and not including women in our pictures — happy now?” 

The show, Scapegoating Pictures, is the latest demonstration of the artists’ career-long desire to shock.’

Don’t know about you but I, personally, am a little tired of being shocked by Gilbert and George; that particular button has been pressed rather too often — it’s not connecting any more. But I should like to take issue with their notion that they’ve now engaged in equal-opportunity blasphemy. I think it was at their retrospective show at Tate Modern a few years ago that I saw quite what their amusing views on Judeo-Christianity amount to. In Spit Law (1997), there were images of the two of them baring their bottoms, flanking a text about homosexuality from the Old Testament – Leviticus, I suppose.


Now, it may be terrifically amusing for them to depict women in burkas irreverently. But to poke fun at the full veil is not, frankly, of a piece with baring their bums at the Bible. If they really want to show as much contempt for Islam as for Christianity, the truly radical and ground-breaking thing to do would be to take a similar text from the Koran and show their bottoms to it. The result, I fancy, would gratify their desire for controversy, and then some.

Can’t quite see it myself, though. Can you?

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  • Atanas Krussteff

    Some ask: why not encourage them. I think that the author does exactly this – encourages them to be equally brave with Islamic issues. It is easy to show your balls at nuns. Show them to the Muslim butchers. Otherwise everybody gets at least bored.

  • BoiledCabbage

    Notice that Gilbert still does up all his jacket buttons. Will he never learn?

  • Tim Baker

    What happened to Ukip’s ban the burqa policy?

  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    I’m guessing either Gilbert or George lost his bottom years ago.
    oh err missus.

  • Gwangi

    All modern art is rubbish. Conceptual art is a giant con and anyone admiring it or spending money on unmade beds, piles of rubbish and concepts that need to be explained by red-spectacled goatie-sporting prize pillocks deserves to be fleeced.

    Why not just watch Four Lions, which says more about the horrors of Islam that any conceptual artists ever could, or maybe one of the campus satires which dares to touch on the issue, or maybe ever make an Islamic version of Life of Brian…

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    Why not encourage them?

  • Gizzard Puke

    Remember that G & G were very rare at one time in the fact that they admitted to being Tories in a predominantly left-wing environment not the Beeb but the art world! That was when Tories were actually conservatives.

  • zanzamander

    Poking fun at religion, any religion, is lazy, boring and infantile. Making fun of all faiths except Islam is Islamophobic.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Speaking of art and the fashion of speaking out in old age (no, this post will not be about UKIP), how does this rank on the Viviane Westwood ‘we must stop climate change’ Richter Scale of things to come our way next?

  • Tony_E

    Seems to be the day for non stories today – First some MP (shadow Culture/Media/Sport) has a rant about women in cabinet and makes a hypocrite of herself, and then some artists I’ve never hear of try to shock people who probably couldn’t give a flying #@%! what they take pictures of.

    • Alexsandr

      oh the religion of peace lot will be out demanding apologies, and issuing death threat fatwas before long, you know

      have to respect Dr Taj Hargey in the mail today.

      pity he didnt renounce the death penalty for people leaving islam, FGM and ‘thighing’ as well.

      • Shazza

        Never, ever forget ‘Taqiyya’ – these so-called ‘moderates’ are the ‘acceptable’ face of islam.
        Their goal is the same as that of ‘extremists’ – the spreading of islam worldwide. It is only their methods that differ.

  • The Masked Marvel

    On the extremely rare occasion that an edgy comedian bravely speaks truth to a religion other than Christianity or Israel, give them a little credit before rolling the eyes. Of course this isn’t as harsh as what Christians have to put up with, but as even the tiniest thing can set off waves of outrage and violence from Muslims, it’s a relative hit.

    Better to encourage them to go even further next time rather than dismiss the attempt outright.

    • Damaris Tighe

      I agree totally, but pity their so-called ‘art’ is such infantile rubbish.

      • The Masked Marvel

        What else can one expect from ‘edgy comedians’?

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