Belfast Telegraph

Controversial artists Gilbert and George back in Northern Ireland, but no sign of protestors

 

By Ivan Little

Controversial artists Gilbert and George, who earned the wrath of Ian Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church nearly 20 years ago, have paid a flying visit back to Belfast to prepare for a new exhibition in the city - and this time there wasn't a protester in sight.

In 1999 the quirky English duo were picketed by dozens of demonstrators at their last exhibition at the Ormeau Baths gallery.

The church members were incensed at the artists' work, which included naked portraits of themselves. The displays also included examples of human excrement and semen.

Free Presbyterians who sang hymns and waved placards outside the exhibition said it was an offence against human decency and was using sewage as an arts presentation.

At one point a bewildered Gilbert and George peered outside to see the protesters on Ormeau Avenue but decided against inviting them in.

The artists have now been back in Belfast to promote a new exhibition which opens at the MAC Belfast in January.

The pair posed for photographs at a number of landmarks in Belfast including the Harland & Wolff cranes

It's not clear if Free Presbyterians will protest at the new exhibition.

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Their forthcoming exhibition

Scapegoating Pictures has excited officials at the MAC, which has shown work by world famous artists like David Hockney and Andy Warhol

Hugh Mulholland, senior curator at the MAC, said: "We are delighted to be bringing Gilbert and George to Belfast again after an absence of nearly 20 years.

"In many ways Northern Ireland is a very different place to what it was in 1999 when they last exhibited here, but in many ways we remain the same and still have unresolved issues around equality and the recognition of individual rights."

Noirin McKinney, director of arts development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: "Gilbert and George are the most influential duo of contemporary British art.

"Scapegoating Pictures, like all their epic works, will no doubt offend, provoke and intrigue us, presenting the viewer with an unrelenting portrayal of the fractures evident in Britain today.

"The Arts Council is delighted to endorse this latest exhibition at the MAC; we hope it will inspire many thousands of people to come along and be challenged and engaged by the unique vision of the remarkable artistic collaboration which is Gilbert and George."

The exhibition will run from January 25 until March 31, 2018

Belfast Telegraph

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