The Art of Living in the Past

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AT THE HEIGHT of their fame, Gary Indiana called David McDermott and Peter McGough the “Tupperware Gilbert and George.” Like so many comparisons, it is more clever than it is useful. But the two couples have similarities. Like Gilbert & George, an artistic duo known for their graphic art and performance, McDermott and McGough are gay men who sign their work together. They are a couple, although they now lead more separate lives. And like Gilbert & George, McDermott and McGough have made homosexuality one of their major topics, culminating in their Oscar Wilde Temple, an installation that incorporated many of their paintings.

            But while Gilbert & George have created an image of anonymity that meshes with the glossy impersonality of their billboards, McDermott and McGough are everywhere in their rather homespun art, which is an outgrowth of the unusual way they live. “Tupperware” suggests the very American, domestic spirit of their work. Peter McGough’s memoir I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going captures the silly, desperate decade they lived through and the peculiar ménage which is their major work of art.

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David Bergman, an English professor at Towson University, is the poetry editor of this magazine.

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