Gilbert & George

Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk


Not on display

Gilbert & George born 1943, born 1942
Video, monitor, black and white and sound (mono)
Duration: 12 min.
Purchased 1972

Display caption

Gin and tonic became Gilbert and George's drink of choice in 1971. They picked Gordon's because it was 'the best gin'. For this film, they have added their names to the bottle's label, on either side of the Royal crest. The artists are shown seated at a table, getting drunk to a soundtrack of Elgar and Grieg. Their deadpan expressions and repeated declaration that 'Gordon's makes us very drunk' creates an absurd scene that ironically questions identity, nationality and 'good behaviour'.

Gallery label, October 2000

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Catalogue entry

Gilbert and George b.1943, b.1942

T01703 Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk 1972

½ in. black and white video tape recording, 12 minutes duration.
Purchased from Nigel Greenwood Inc. Ltd (Grant-in-Aid) 1972.

The video tape is accompanied by a printed certificate as for T01702.

‘Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk’ was recorded in the front room of ‘Art for All’, 12 Fournier Street, London E1 in the summer of 1972.

The sculptors were conscious that the tape was to a certain extent like a television commercial. The opening sequence was motivated in part by their wish to make a ‘super still life’.

Gin and tonic became the sculptors’ drink in 1971 and Gordon’s gin was selected because it is in their opinion ‘the best gin’. Furthermore, since Gordon’s supply gin to H.M. the Queen by appointment, the label conveniently bears the royal coat-of-arms, to which Gilbert and George have added their names in the manner to which they have been accustomed since their first printed pieces were made.

The music which accompanies the opening sequence of the video tape is part of Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No.1, in D, Op.39. Appropriately regal, the music has been used in a television commercial, but the sculptors were not aware of it. However, ‘Morning’ (from Peer Gynt Suite No.1) by Edvard Grieg, which follows, was chosen because it had been played in Song of Norway, a film based on the composer’s life, which the sculptors had seen at the Cinerama cinema in Old Compton Street. They had also heard it as the sound track for a tea or coffee commercial.

The voice of George which is heard repeating ‘Gordon’s makes us drunk’, ‘very drunk’, and so forth, was dubbed on afterwards, as were the pieces of music.

Before shooting began, Gilbert and George sought the assistance of neighbours to prevent passers-by from stopping in the street outside the window of ‘Art for All’ and staring at the camera during the recording.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.

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