- GILBERT & GEORGE, Oh, the Grand Old Duke of York, 1972.
(no UP, no DOWN)
Oh, the Grand Old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
And he marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again
And when they were up, they were up
And when they were down, they were down
And when they were only half way up
They were neither up nor down
Being living sculptures is our life blood, our destiny, our romance, our disaster, our light and life. As day breaks over us, we rise into our vacuum and the cold morning light filters dustily through the window. We put on our shoes for the coming walk. Our limbs begin to stir and form actions of looseness, as though without gravity they bounce about for the new day. The head afloat on top levels on the horizon of our thought. Our hearts pound with flesh blood and emotion and again we find ourselves standing there all nerved up in body and mind. Often we will glide across the room, drawn by the window’s void. Our eyes are glued to this frame of light. Our mind points ever to our decay. The big happening outside the window floods our vision like a passing film. It leaves us without impressions, giving up only silence and repretitive relaxation. Nothing can touch us or take us out of ourselves. It is a continuous sculpture. Our minds float off into time, visiting fragments of words heard, face seen, feelings felt, faces loved. We take occasional sips from our water glasses. Consciousness comes along and goes away, slipping from dreaming space into old concrete awareness. The whole room is filled with the mass and weight for our own history, at time it sees us chained to our chairs and then it will appear like large music, surrounding and intoxicating. We feel briefly but seriously for our fellow artistmen. More than ever complete with our physical, for a time with legs crossed, or arms folded until the elbows ache, a throat is cleared gently but effectively, we then stand for relief pushed up against the wall. Sometimes the room with its size and form and precision of our clarity, its one vase of flowers, its large desk-blackboard of our doing, our two dear, faithful green chairs, the black telephone, linked with the World’s art-network.
Ring and ring again
Make us happy ever again
Stay as silent as the desk
And be as free and let it be.
The neat ash tray steadily fills with relaxful butts, beside it a fresh yellow packet of cigarettes. Very often the room makes us hurt with real bodily pressure. From time to time we are taken head-first from this room called “Art for all“ out and away, sometimes driven, sometimes drawn to breathe again amongst the people. We stroll with specialised embarassment and our purpose is only to take the sunshine. The people are all living near to beauty, passing by. Walking is the eternity of our living movement, it can never tell us of end, it is for nothing but the time passing unnoticed. We give ourselves to this walking and so the houses come towards us and then away behind. We would like to tell of our great pleasure in seeing the early flowers and blossoms, they seem to have a youg fresh youth, so fine and coloured. We remark the trees with their tight bursting buds. As our legs take us jauntily along we come to a place where we pause for a cup of poison-nervous tea. We sit sit over it chatting a little of the normal afternoon when all is usual and well. Nothing breathtaking wil occur here, but in the darkness of a picture house, where time is killed, the world explodes realistically into giant action stories, men are killed, women are loved, mountains are blown up, night falls, Volcanoes erupt, john wayne rides again and caesar speaks anew to people. All this until the reel is done and viewers drift blinking and reeling out into the bright city. And we happily go back to Our art where only tiredness and searching play big roles, where all is thin on the ground, where greatness is made at the stroke of a brush, where something and nothing are both qualities. Art is for all the only hope for the making way for the Modern world to enjoy the sophistication of decadent living expression. It is our strong belief that in Art there is living, and where there’s life there’s Hope. It is for this reason that we have dedicated our hands, legs, pens, speech and our own dear heads to progress and understanding in art.
Art my Life and Art my Way
See us painting in mud and clay
See us dancing and smiling too
Let us hope that Art is true.
And then maybe we will see ourselves in a garden, soft and sitting, watching the sun as it gently lowers itself down behind the horizon, taking with it all its golden light and warmth. For a little while the garden keeps some of the day’s warm-strength. The two men-sculptures use-up the last pleasure, but soon the chill of evening creeps over all, we hear no insect, the birds begin to settle down from the day’s frolics and we feel it must soon be time to stretch a leg and make our way between the rich beds of flowers, over the spongy lawns to return to solid state of buildings with their sensible doors and windows. On our way we pause on the embankment to take in the glory that is the Thames and Westminster. Slowly the lamps are lighted and night presumes upon the evening. We like it very much. We like it because we are so stupid, artistic and shy. Because we have come from nowhere and where we go nobody knows. We feel the total mystery of each man-laid brick. We are just down at the river feeling around. As the shades of night are falling around our neighbourhood we stroll because we know full well that another sculpture day is over. » (see Lea Vergine, p. 105-107)