DEATH MAKES A KILLING
Moira Jeffrey The Herald, December 6th 2004

Beagles and Ramsay: Unrealised Dreams
Glasgow School of Art December 3rd 2004 – February 12th 2005


Dreams can come true. Last year, in a preposterous poster project for the Venice Biennale, artists Beagles and Ramsay proposed making black pudding using their own blood. It would have been a satire on the artist Marc Quinn ? who made a portrait head out of his own frozen red stuff ? as well as part of their ongoing interests in self-portraiture, morbidity and the unrelenting grimness of the Scottish diet. This autumn (or so they claim) they have done it, sending the human boudin noir by post to New York for an exhibition. All this makes viewing a drawing of this proposal at their new Scottish exhibition, Unrealised Dreams at Glasgow School of Art, just a little uncomfortable. What might come true next? Presented as a sculptural installation and a series of faux renaissance drawings, which owe a lot to Leonardo da Vinci, but an equal amount to art forger Tom Keating.


Unrealised Dreams is a typical catalogue of the Glasgow-based pair's unhealthy obsessions with pop music, horror films and bodily dysfunction. One might feel that this project was simply a symptom of prolonged adolescence, if it wasn't that the fear of ageing, decrepitude and decay are also writ large. One proposal is for a giant public monument to teeth, accompanied by a song ? Oh Rotten Molar (to the tune of Flower of Scotland). A double self-portrait shows the artists as bare-chested fat old men. A recent new drawing portrays the artists as teratoma, those nasty tumours that have the capacity to produce all kinds of human tissue including teeth and hair, foreign to the site of growth. A proposal for a "prickless cactus" might indeed be a suggestion for an injury-free plant, but one cannot miss the potent (or should that be impotent) sexual metaphor attached.
Since they started working together in 1997, Beagles and Ramsay's work is also a satire on the codes and conventions of the art world in which they are working. The gallery at the School of Art in Glasgow is punctuated by a series of crates, one of which alarmingly seems to contain someone trying to get out, and another which is filled to the brim with scarlet substance purporting to be blood - the address being to a curator at the strangely-titled Hogsland Kunstverein. A quick check over the facts will establish that no such museum exists.


There is also a new self-portrait monument that shows Ramsay as a tall, aloof giraffe with the words "puritan sympathiser" hanging around his neck. Beagles, who lectures at Edinburgh College of Art, is a plump pig, branded "hedonist dilettante". Beagles and Ramsay's website includes elegant and inelegant parodies of the art world. They have even drawn a proposal for their own ideal museum, it's a kind of garden grotto that is to be entered through giant jaws of death, and its stars, such as US icon Andy Warhol, have all passed away. The visual arts feast that is Unrealised Dreams at Glasgow School of Art is full of the carnival tradition of looking death in the face and laughing at it. Funny, puerile, revolting and petulant, Beagles and Ramsay are, like the rest of us, very afraid.