c26fdef86dab14cf0c505ed3b28aa6d7_6 Gilbert & George say-: DECRIMINALISE SEX 3, 2015
Image via White Cube/ © Gilbert and George

The exhibition consists of 10 banners scrawled with graffiti-like typography with statements that read like Gilbert and George's 10 commandments. Each phrase, including 'DECRIMINALISE SEX', 'BAN RELIGION', 'GOD SAVE THE QUEEN' amongst others with more expletives, is repeated three times. It seems the message of each banner falls flat, and what has been described by the White Cube as answering 'prejudice with prejudice' has been lost on these crudely executed works. Not only are the words empty, but the process of repeating them three times, feels necessary, rather than having the hard-hitting force the pair were presumably attempting to create.

c26fdef86dab14cf0c505ed3b28aa6d7_5 Gilbert & George say-: BURN THAT BOOK 2, 2015
Image via White Cube/ © Gilbert and George

c26fdef86dab14cf0c505ed3b28aa6d7_3 Gilbert & George say-: BAN RELIGION 1, 2015
Image via White Cube/ © Gilbert and George

c26fdef86dab14cf0c505ed3b28aa6d7_2 Gilbert & George say-: GOD SAVE THE QUEEN 3, 2015
Image via White Cube/ © Gilbert and George

The concept behind banners has small similarities to their 1970s piece ''Dirty Words'' which used the juxtaposition of graffiti and photography of social inequality in London's East End. However, ''The Banners,'' do not emulate the same impact their works once had.

Cunt Scum 1977 Image via The Tate © Gilbert and George Cunt Scum 1977
Image via The Tate
© Gilbert and George

Fans of the duo will not fail to notice that their humour is missing from these works. What Michael Bracewell describes in his catalogue essay for the exhibition as ''each propose the disruption of modern conventions or sophistry as a means of encouraging individuals to think for themselves,'' in fact leaves the viewer cold and questioning the motive of these sterile works.

However, the language of the works does set out to do what to duo wanted, it is straightforward and it becomes the visual. Perhaps the works had more meaning when they were held up by Gilbert & George at the Serpentine Gallery's ''Extinction Marathon'' in 2014, where the pair stood in silence holding the banners up to the audience. On the walls of the White Cube, the viewer is left not delving into society's ills, but cold and empty.

Gilbert & George ''The Banners'' is at White Cube, Bermondsey, until January 24th 2016.

For more information, see here.

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