Review of 'Head Lung Dead'

Neil Cooper in the List magazine Jan 7th 1999.


Feeling broody? You an Ally McBeal both, and , such is the wonder of merchandising, the leggy brief's dancing baby can act as a surrogate bundle of joy for us all. Child rearing may be the new rock 'n roll, but a new exhibition at Glasgow's Independent Studios should see any latent maternal instincts left in the nursery where they belong. Itinerant pranksters Beagles and Ramsay have taken the character of a monstrous infant from last year's 'Can't Pay Won't Pay' exhibition at the Collective Gallery, fleshed him out and given him his own show.

Stand up Gary The Misunderstood Toddler, a 30in high child who comes complete with a fully operational flamethrower with which the dear wee mite terrorizes the inhabitants of a South London estate. The show and tell video features slices of Gary's domestic life with his parents alongside excerpt from his adventures in the outside world. 'Our intention for the show is to construct for Gary a chipboard coffin within which he will lie in state while his flamethrower fires a torch of illumination kind of like a Kuwaiti oil well,' say the artists. Surrounding this will be a pile of coloured paper, more fuel for Gary's fire/funeral pyre. A series of slogans hang on the walls as a TV relays highlights of Gary's tragically short life to a soundtrack entitled 'Geezer Gotta Flamethrower'.

Beagles and Ramsay see their collabaorations as 'entertaining yet morally ambiguous in tone', regarding Gary as one of a series of characters that express a volatile and decidedly un-PC masculinity. Maybe that's why Gary has become a star in Australia, where 'Geezer Gotta Flamethrower' has been played on national radio. Still, the sun-baked landscapes of Oz have little to do with the look of Beagles and Ramsay's work. 'The whole thing will be pretty dark and gothic,' say the pair 'predominantly grey and black in tone, but with spots of colour here and there.'