Theosophy Of The Urethra – Gilbert and George

The unorthodox art duo Gilbert and George first experimented with postcards as a medium for art almost 40 years ago. Since that time they’ve always maintained their status as a unique force in the art world, having delved into topics like sex and nudity and highlighting subjects like feces and urine in a blunt and forward manner. Now, The Urethra Postcard Pictures deals with the artists ideas about nature, sexuality, reproduction and being through their postcard work.

George and Gilbert - Big Ben Flagsky

George and Gilbert - Big Ben Flagsky

The entirety of each piece in the 564 strong collection is unlike their past collages. Each work is a series of 13 identical postcards arranged in the same manner: twelve postcards aligned in a rectangle with a thirteenth in the center of the rectangle, accompanied by the title and signed by the artists below the images. The shape which the postcards form is claimed to be an angulated representation of the theosophical symbol for a urethra, one supported by Charles Leadbeater who made a professional habit out of masturbation. The symbol that Gilbert and George attribute to Leadbeater had, in fact, existed as a symbol representing air, the sun, and eventualy harmony within a male and female union prior to the theosophist’s use of it, so it is nevertheless a fitting representation for their topic.

George and Gilbert - All Kinky

George and Gilbert - All Kinky

The postcards cover a wide body of subjects such as nationhood, civic identity, sexuality, prostitution, and being and are taken from regular tourist stands to handbills advertising adult services. Gilbert and George highlight that all of these topics are interdependent on the human condition, all having been conceived from the urethra which carries sperm, symbolizing the impregnation of life to all of their subject matter.

George and Gilbert - Bloody War

George and Gilbert - Bloody War

The collection of telephone box cards is quite varied and paints a sordid and unique history of London where their presence was second nature, unlike in other countries. However, considering the time it took to collect these pieces, they may showcase more of a historical than a living portrait of British culture as the prevalence of the handbills is waning. The postcards have been on tour in several galleries across the country, most recently having been exhibited for a few days at Lehmann Maupin.

George and Gilbert - Buses

George and Gilbert - Buses

Do Gilbert and George accurately reflect the interconnectedness of all things or are their postcards best saved to be used by the post office? Sound off below.

Video interview of Gilbert and George at The Telegraph.
Review from their exhibition at White Cube.
Exhibition feature from The Independent.
Interview from Dazed Digital.

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