Gilbert: “It’s all religion in the end – that’s the big problem. Inventing evil and sin, and limbo, and hell and purgatory… just to terrorise us forever. Mortal sin? Living with sin? Extraordinary stuff. We don’t believe you have to be religious to behave yourself. We have to sort out a system for ourselves, because religion is something untouchable – a god that invented god to terrorise you.”
George: “The Christian church have never apologised for the things they have done. In South Africa they had the reconciliation committee where people from both sides could come forward and say that they were wrong. Not religion. Think of all the people in this country who went to prison in the last century – up until 1967 – for cottaging, you could never apologise for that. The police didn’t even remove them from the criminal records system until a few weeks ago. There are people aged 68 who have never been able to get a job because they have a criminal record for cottaging. That’s appalling. Originally, the church arranged the laws for that stuff – vicars hand in glove with the state, bastards. They still have the synod every year, where they decide everything – they have their own government. Thou shalt not shag!”
"It’s all religion in the end – that’s the big problem. Inventing evil and sin, and limbo, and hell and purgatory… just to terrorise us forever."
The legendary Gilbert and George have been upsetting the established order for the last thirty years with a wry and quintessentially English sensibility, and their work has often taken aim at the mendacious bourgeois hypocrisies of church and state. Here, the iconic duo, who are currently drawing the attention of the global art scene to the dark mantras that infect the newsstands of our capital city in the exhibition London Pictures at White Cube, tell AnOther why religion remains the greatest terrorist of them all.
Gilbert & George's London Pictures is currently at The White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey and runs until May 12.
Text by John-Paul Pryor