Answers On A Postcard, Please / Hg2 MUST-VISIT

This Friday sees the opening of The Urethra Postcard Pictures at White Cube, the work of former Turner-prize winners Gilbert and George. Advancing their long-standing engagement with commercially manufactured images and texts, this postcard exhibition comes nearly forty years after their first exhibition of Postcard Art, and two decades since their last group of pictures to be made in the medium of postcards. In this new exhibition, Gilbert and George explore both a modern urban world and a sexual society that is covert or marginalised within that world. Telephone box cards advertising the services of certain ‘ladies of negotiable affection’ stand alongside more conventional images of London, so that themes such as prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases are treated with precisely the same sense of scale, aesthetic and compositional language as nationhood and civic identity. And the significance of the word ‘urethra’ in the title, you might ask? Apparently it’s that the pieces on display are united, compositionally, by their elements comprising ‘an angulated version of the sign of urethra’. This shape – a continuous rectangle of cards, with a single card in its central space – mimics the sexual symbol used by the one time theosophist C. W. Leadbetter (1853 – 1934) to accompany his signature, and as such proposes that this group of new art works is infused with a still confrontational libertarianism. So there you have it: the exhibition runs until February 19th, so there’s plenty of time to get down there to experience a somewhat unusual take on the perks and peccadillos of London life.
By Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough
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