“To Speak Across The Barriers Of Knowledge Directly To People About Their Life”: Using Powerful Art to Influence Their Viewers Through The Work of Gilbert and George
In this essay I would argue that Gilbert and George are urging us to consider three central concerns. For me, these three consist of opening our minds to the artistic aspects of society that we do not normally see, shocking us by exposing us to images that we are typically unexposed to and imploring us to be accepting of the concepts that are most commonly unaccepted. First, I feel that Gilbert and George are dealing with the issue of our outlook on society in order to make us reconsider what art really is or should be about. By doing so, Gilbert and George show us the images that we usually would not immediately relate to art so that we can open our minds to these new ideas. Secondly, I want to look at Gilbert and George's approach to shocking and exposing us to concepts that we are accustomed to, which for me opens up the concept of how the general public holds strong stigmas to such natural things. This will lead me into the examination of the issue of thinking differently. Lastly, I would like to explore the way Gilbert and George push us to accept the many denied concepts that we have created because I believe it allows us to see that the artists think about society as something to be accepting not as differences we should ignore but rather as similarities we should embrace. While looking through the sculptures of Gilbert and George, I immediately grasped a sense of amenability towards their art. I noticed that they tend to take a common public opinion and alter it in order to convey a different outlook on the subject. To me, it seems as though they strive for us to see concepts differently after viewing their expressional art. In 1977, these artists created a powerful point to their audience. They created sculptures such as ‘Cunt’, ‘Queer’, and ‘Fuck’ that had incorporated graffiti from the walls of London. Gilbert and George incorporated photographs of London’s streets along with the graffiti in order to show us that London itself holds art within. This made me realize that their purpose is to show us that art is not only surrounding our everyday lives but that specifically, ordinary people hold these expressions and feel a need to show the rest of the world what they feel. Our society is filled with people who express themselves regularly. Unfortunately, most people are not open to such artistic expressions. Graffiti is generally portrayed as a nascence with out depth or significance. Therefore, many people do not take a second glance at its meaning, or even believe that it is considered art at all. Before examining the sculptures from Gilbert and George, I rarely looked at graffiti as a form of artistic expression, only as vandalism. Gilbert and George had expanded my insight of graffiti to see that it is not just another form of vandalism, but that it can be a work of art. I feel that Gilbert and George want us to understand that the images we most commonly overlook are the very things that build our society. This leads us to the point that together, the artists want their artwork to be understood by normal people. Specifically, Gilbert and George declare in their manifesto What Out Art Means that art that is not understood by the normal outsider “is a cruel denial of the Life of People”. As simplistic as Gilbert and George’s artwork may seem, they hold an even stronger message. Gilbert emphasizes to Tim Marlow that he and George “have a vision of the world”. They urge us to see that vision via their art. By doing so, the artists are able to expose us to new ideas and allow us to grasp a stronger feeling towards the expressions of our peers. With open and accepting minds, we should be able to have a glimpse of the world in way that we might not have been able to before. Gilbert and George use photographs of street graffiti to...
Cited: Gauntlett, David. Some Things About Art And Cities: Gilbert and George. April 2000. Web. 14 December 2009.
Jahn, Wolf. “Naked Human Artists.” Tate.org. Tate Etc., Spring 2007. Web. 14 December 2009.
Tim Marlow with… Gilbert and George. Dir. Ben Harding. Pref. Tim Marlow, Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore. Seventh Art productions, 2007. DVD.
Tusa, John. Interview with Gilbert and George: John Tusa Interviews. BBC Radio. Web. 14 December 2009.
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