They would repeat the performance on countless occasions all over the world until the 1990s. At the time, George Passmore and Gilbert Prousch were still known as George and Gilbert – a few years later they reversed their names and became Gilbert & George. For The Singing Sculpture, the pair dressed up in strict suits and sported short-cropped hair, the antithesis of the art-world hippie look of the time. Their faces painted gold and silver, one wearing a glove, the other holding a cane, they danced robotically on a table singing along to a tape recording of Underneath the Arches.
Each time the song was played, the duo, who performed as one – “There are artists who collaborate, not us” –, alternated who wore the glove and who held the cane. Initially, the performance lasted just a few minutes, with the song being played two or three times, but at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf they did it eight hours non-stop on two consecutive days, arriving before the first visitors and leaving after the last. “I don’t know how we came up with the idea of a singing and dancing sculpture,” they said in 1997, “but we realized we could produce a very intense work of art. It was rather depressing, the movements were really sad, but everyone felt strangely enriched by the experience – children were fascinated, old ladies were crying...”