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CIRCA 20:23

Gilbert & George, The Believing World

1-31 October

Marking three-years of generating funds in support of the #CIRCAECONOMY – a circular model designed to commission new public art and create life-changing opportunities for the community – CIRCA presents The Believing World, a specially commissioned ‘living sculpture’ by Gilbert & George. Broadcasting for five minutes every evening at 20:23 (local time) on the world’s most iconic screen, Piccadilly Lights, and broadcasting across the CIRCA platform in Berlin, Seoul, Tokyo and Los Angeles, the global takeover celebrates their famous motto, ‘Art for All’, as a universal language, from 2 – 31 October 2023.

Gilbert & George said, “Gilbert & George on Piccadilly – don’t tell mother!”

Presented in collaboration with The Gilbert & George Centre — a free to enter exhibition space for their art and the artist’s gift to the community of London — The Believing World was filmed in the nearby courtyard of their 18th-century home and studio, situated in the Brick Lane and Fournier Street Conservation Area. In characterful style and coordinated suits, the starring characters of their art are filmed reading aloud 144 hand-written statements. Deploying cryptic, fragmentary assertions, they reveal how lies and belief simultaneously play widely divergent roles in our daily lives—as the source of our identities, as a naive weakness, and as the wellspring of hope for the future. “Belief is beautiful. Believers are wankers,” it begins. “Belief is shit. Belief can help.

Bringing their characteristically playful ‘living sculpture’ to Piccadilly Circus’ iconic screen, Gilbert & George played homage to the grid formation used in many of their best-known works, while mimicking the subdivided geometry of Piccadilly Lights’ iconic advertising space through its history, with this multi-angle ‘video sculpture’ combining three camera frames to create one unique perspective.

Reinforcing the friendship between the viewer and their vibrant catalogue of pictures, this October commission begins with a cosmic time-walk-through Gilbert & George’s path-breaking oeuvre to celebrate their position as one of the city’s most iconic Londoners.

Sir Norman Rosenthal, CIRCA Council Chairman, says ➳, “For well over half a century, Gilbert & George have made constantly startling images that, once seen, remain forever in the mind. Like Hogarth, their work focuses on London, and, for virtually all their lives, the East End of London, as the centre of the world from where they investigate ‘truth’ in all its multifaceted forms. They have built up an unparalleled vision of modern life. Here, in this new work created especially for CIRCA, they give us a “video sculpture” that questions the nature of BELIEF that gives rise endlessly to prejudice and misunderstanding—but also to comfort. Like all their work, but in an utterly new way, it shows them asking universal and uncomfortable questions, here sitting together side by side on a garden bench.

In recognition of the London Creates campaign, led by a collective of leaders from across London’s visual arts and creative industries to support London’s place as a world leading creative capital, CIRCA will present its longest ever nightly takeover. Pausing the adverts on the iconic Piccadilly Lights for five minutes every evening, the ‘living sculpture’ will also appear at 20:23 (local time) across the CIRCA global network of screens in Berlin, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Seoul. Sharing their message on the world stage, The Believing World coincides with a new trophy designed by CIRCA 20:20 artist, Ai Weiwei, being awarded to the winner of the £30,000 CIRCA PRIZE 2023 on Monday 9 October at 8pm in Piccadilly Circus.

Josef O’Connor, Founder and Artistic Director of CIRCA, said, “Since meeting on the advanced sculpture course at St. Martins School of Art in 1967, Gilbert and George have embodied the spirit of what it means to be a Londoner. Created in collaboration with CIRCA, this new ‘video sculpture’ reveals the tumultuous now, in a collision of feeling and experience, romance and reality, playtime and confession. We are honoured to mark our three-year anniversary on the Piccadilly Lights by collaborating with The Gilbert and George Centre and echoing our shared belief that art serves as a universal language for all.”

The Believing World by Gilbert & George (1 – 31 October, 2023)

20:23 BST/GMT London, Piccadilly Lights
20:23 CET Berlin, Limes, Kurfürstendamm
20:23 KST Seoul, COEX K-Pop Square
20:23 PST Los Angeles, StandardVision
20:23 JPY Tokyo, Shibuya TV

To view the map, click here

Screen locations

20:23 GMT London, Piccadilly Lights

20:23 CET Berlin, Limes, Kurfürstendamm

20:23 KST Seoul, COEX K-Pop Square

20:23 PST Los Angeles, Marriott, 901 W Olympic Blvd

Hourly JST Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing 


02/10/2023 Press Release: Gilbert & George, The Believing World