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Gilbert & George: The Early Years

Hear Gilbert & George explain how and why they invented Postal Sculptures as young art-school graduates. "Gilbert & George: The Early Years" was on view at MoMA through September 27, 2015. Learn more: http://bit.ly/1SvnaZe.

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Video transcript

Being living sculpture is our lifeblood, our destiny, our romance, our disaster, our light and life. As day breaks over us, we rise into a vacuum and the cold morning light filters dustily through the window. We step into the responsibility suits of our art. Gilbert & George have a wide range of sculptures for you. -Singing sculpture. -Interview sculpture. -Dancing sculpture. -Meal sculpture. -Walking sculpture. -Nerve sculpture. -Café sculpture. -And philosophy sculpture. So do contact us. Name, address and phone number. And nobody did, that's very good. We didn't want to be the art students who left college and ran to buy some bundle of canvases, or some plaster or bronze. We thought we had something new to say and we wanted a new form. And I remember in the end of the school year, we had these objects that we made, and we asked somebody to take photographs of us holding these. And half way through we realized that we didn't need the objects to be sculpture. That was a revelation for us. We invented Postal Sculptures as a means of reaching a lot of people that we couldn't reach through having a gallery. We had no representative, we couldn't put our art on a gallery wall, but we could do Postal Sculptures. We'd go and post them, and it would arrive the next day. Because they're what you call the visual of the Postal Sculpture would create a three-dimensional feeling in your brain. We managed to get the mailing list from Konrad Fischer. 300 different people, collectors and people who were interested in art and overnight we were totally known in the art world. It wasn't the sort of thing you received in the post from most galleries at that time. It had something new, it had something very traditional about it, it had something very polite about it. It was all the things that the art world didn't have. So here we are with the Red Boxers, and each part, Postal Sculpture. And they are based on a certain period where we were out of control in some way. Here, there is one. "Stillness, breathing through our air makes us still breathe." The Red Boxers were really when we became quite... unhappy, drunk, and what do you call, political, and completely enclosed in our rooms. Feeling the what you call atmosphere around our bodies. It’s a lot to do with the constraints of the modern life that we felt at that time the fear of excessive collectivism in the art world and in general... We still wanted to feel that we could up every day and get out of bed being oneself, not being citizen or subject, but to be free and individual. May we describe to you with picture and words, the sculpture which began... on the last Saturday, misspelt, in November 1969. We had just made some cocoa when it began to snow... We realized you cannot just be a living sculpture alone and leave nothing behind. So, we thought we can leave suggestions behind, feelings behind. What is that feeling you get when you see the snow falling when you weren't expecting it? It's very difficult to say exactly what that magic moment of... It's not just the snow falling and the unexpectedness. It means all sorts of other things. It goes from childhood and one’s relationship with other people, Christmas cards, and events in your life, and future and past. So we positioned ourselves at the window. As we began to look, we felt ourselves taken into a sculpture of overwhelming purity, life and peace, a rare and new art piece. We thank you for being with us for these few moments. It takes me back, it feels emotional to read it even. Extraordinary. Everything became human for us, I think that was the art that we wanted. If you could feel pain or happy or all these feelings that are inside a person, like sexuality, that became our art of that day. To be with art is all we ask. To be human.