Catherine Austin
Notes on the self-portrait works of Beagles and Ramsay 1997 - 2004


"Untitled" (2003). A spotlit pair of glitter encrusted skulls turn alongside one another in a darkened room. These memento mori mirrorballs rotate at a constant 4rpm. 'Untitled' - often the refuge of the weak and the fey. (NB. 'No Title' has become the current alternative in certain circles with optional epithet in parenthesis). Ref: "The Atrocity Exhibition", J G Ballard, 1970

"Double Drone – Manager Graham and Worker John" (2001). The perfect stunted workers installed within an aluminium light industrial studio. Carefully monitored sustenance control apparatus takes care of all dietary and psychotropic needs.

"Groove Brain" (2001) is one of a range of collectable battery operated toys and limited edition figurines produced for Beagles & Ramsay by New Heads On The Block & Rope-A-Dope Studios. Refs: "Gargantua and Pantagruel" Francois Rabelais, Penguin Classics, "Hooligan Toys Blasted", Chris MacCauley Daily Mirror Nov. 12th 1999

"Goodnight Goodnight" (1997). Beagles & Ramsay's first substantial self-portrait sculpture. A planned funeral procession through central Edinburgh was cancelled at the last moment due to fears that the unique double berth coffin might cause traffic congestion and present a danger to the public. The gallery doors had already been widened at no small expense to accommodate this oak veneered sarcophagus. Origin late Middle English: via Latin from Greek sarkophagos 'flesh consuming', from sarx, sark - 'flesh' + -phagos '-eating'.

"15th December 2065" (1999). The deathbed double act. Described by one critic as 'Morecambe and Wise meets Samuel Beckett'.

"Two skeletons fighting over a pickled herring" (2001). The title is taken from James Ensor's painting of 1891, Musee Royaux des Beaux Arts, Brussels.

"Long Live The New Flesh" (2003) features wildly animated versions of the "Self Portrait Budget Range Sex Dolls", proving conclusively that pink men can dance. In the words of Koons they are 'liberated from guilt and shame'. Shown originally at Floating IP, Manchester it is as much a rumination upon the Mancunian acid house dream as a nod to Cronenburg's "Videodrome" (1982).

"Dead Of Night" (2003). Beagles & Ramsay are said to have worked with Clinton Detweiler, the godfather of modern ventriloquism at Maher Studios based in Columbine, Colorado. A video was then shot in the partially derelict Britannia Panopticon Music Hall in Glasgow, the oldest surviving building of its kind in the UK. Stan Laurel made his stage debut at this notorious pleasure palace in 1906.
Ref: "Dead Of Night" (1945) Dir. Hamer, Dearden, Crichton & Cavalcanti

"Dead By Dawn" (2001). The "Evil Dead Trilogy" represents a heroic trajectory for Sam Raimi, the true American auteur. Innovative steadicam techniques and high-end psychotronica are allied with an acidic criticality to permeate his oeuvre, whilst leading man Bruce Campbell magnifies all that is essential to the art of film acting and characterisation. His extravagant facial spasms serve to push the conventions of gestural realism to the brink of implosion.
"Puritan Sympathizer Hedonist Dilettante" (2003). Wall paintings are chic once more. Two full scale figure paintings made in a disused shop in the now modish East End of Glasgow were shown alongside "The Whale" (2003), a miniature, graffitied cetacean which appears to swallow the tiny artists in a single gulp.

"Unrealised Dreams" (2003). An ongoing and ever expanding portfolio of drawings executed by the artists in the faux Renaissance manner, with paper aged according to the recipes of master forger, Tom Keating. Close, in certain respects, to the inventions, contraptions and grotesques of Leonardo da Vinci these studies delineate a universe of infinite possibility and wonder. Three instances of transmogrification are illustrated here, as the duo depict themselves as - "Remote Controlled Dead Dogs", "Couch Potatoes" and "Black Pudding". As John Carpenter put it, "Sanguis Gratia Artis".

"Phase IV" (2004). Dead eyed sensation seekers are already with familiar with televisual offerings such as "Celebrity Disfigurement" and "Crash Test Kids".
NB. See the work of Rob Bottin, considered by many as the Michelangelo of the pre-digital special effects world. Recent work includes "Mimic" (1997) and "Fight Club" (1999) but his crowning achievement remains "The Thing" (1982).
Refs: "Phase IV" (1973) Dir. Saul Bass, "The Thing" (1982) Dir. John Carpenter
"Celebrity Disfigurement" Channel 4 Television, 17th May 2004 and "Crash Test Kids" Channel 5 Television, 12th August 2003

Originally published in "Beagles & Ramsay Self-portraits 1997 - 2004" Chapter, Cardiff 2004