of Night, Gasworks Gallery London 2003
Len Horsey, Flux magazine, Endgames Issue
Ladies and gentlemen, for your delectation and observational fortitude
your own, your very own,
Mr Beagles and Mr Ramsay
With the duality of artistic and comedic sensibility, Beagles and Ramsay
have always dived into the ugliness, dross and destructive qualities
of life. Old age, violence, vulgarity, stardom and burger joints
served up reconstituted burgers made from our favourite celebs (Diana
Burger), served rare with royal blue blood shining through the sinew.
In Goodnight Goodnight, two look a like corpses in a double berth coffin
attend thir own preview night, with a lovely nod to the Two Ronnies
and the much missed Eric and Ernie.
In contemporary art, as with theatre, circus clowns, comedians and the
horror genre, there is something often hidden, tragic, dark, lurking
beneath the surface. Something a tad distasteful and discomforting that
prompts a reaction of hot sweating palpitations or outright hilarity.
The clown, on the tale end of unrequited love for the bearded lady disguises
his sorrow with a painted smile. The cast of a humorous farce who through
envy systematically destroy a fellow actress' career with tales of farmyard
activities. The jovial uncle who lures us to the garden shed with a
joyful promise of puppies and sweets, and then proceeds to chop up our
genitalia. Laugh or cry?
Beagles and Ramsay are at Gasworks Galler presenting their first solo
London show: Dead Of Night. The show is accompanied by the launching
of a catalogue surveying the artist's work since 1996. The title of
this exhibition is taken from the 1945 film made at Ealing, starring
Michael Redgrave as a ventriloquist. Redgrave slowly becomes possessed
by his dummy's abhorrent and disturbing persona. For people suffering
from clownophobia (fear of marionettes/ventriloquist's dummies is a
complimentary phobia) this could be for you. The lads have made two
fully functioning ventriloquist's dummy self portraits.As in their other
work, like Double Self Portrait Sex Dolls (Budget Range) 1999, a pair
of cuddly soft option sex puppets, the dummies are fashioned in the
artist's own image with 'quality wigs and glasses'.
To accommodate their passion for character driven narrative within a
created environment, they've transformed Gasworks into a large theatre
set complete with stage, curtains and dressing room. Alone on the stage
sit the Ventriloquist dummies, demonic despots or benevolent vessels?
In the dressing room a monitor shows pre-recorded performances with
the dummies from the oldest surviving music hall in the UK, the Britannia
Panopticon Music Hall in Glasgow. Stan Laurel and Cary Grant started
out at that very spot. Around the auditorium other video works, photographs
and a DVD projection enhance and dislocate long forgotten nightmares,
memories and jiggle up the bones of merriment.
Beagles and Ramsay's exhibitions have the investigative qualities of
California's finest cop: Lieutenant Columbo. You leave the show thinking
you've got away with it, but then
oh, er, excuse me, just one more