In the GOMA shop, just beside the loading bay style entrance to Beagles & Ramsay’s new exhibition, limited edition t-shirts, tote bags, lanyards and postcards based on the show are nestled next to assorted art stars’ merch. While not usual to advertise within the confines of a review, given the Glasgow based double act of John Beagles and Graham Ramsay’s long-standing dissection of consumer capital, in this context, it seems appropriate.
This year’s model sees the pair in their occasional guise of New Heads on the Block and Rope-a-Dope (NHOTB & RAD) transform the gallery space into a department store. Here, off the peg items and bespoke couture are modelled by eighty-one life-size flatpack showroom dummies that wear their brand with pride.
Constructed from cheap office furniture and resembling Viz comic characters or more regular mannequins after a crash diet and a makeover, the models sport ostentatious uber-moderne outfits for the designer label age. The cut is sharp, the logos writ large, with each model posed in a way that hints at narratives not of their own volition or else draped on platforms above, where more outfits hang down.
At the centre of the room on the front of a raised catwalk, a two-metre high bright yellow geometric ball gown stands tall. In the aisles either side are two pop-up shops, one for office wear, one for sport and leisure. Much of it looks like something Nathan Barley might wear on a night out at a Shoreditch rave.
Videos resembling pop promos show digital animations of the flat-pack models dancing to tinny instrumental electronica. In the back of the makeshift store, models are laid out as if in storage, surplus to requirements or else simply too last season and no longer in vogue.
The effect of all this falls somewhere between TK Maxx and 1970s sit-com Are You Being Served’s Grace Brothers emporium. One half expects to be pounced on by Beagles & Ramsay/NHOTB & RAD cosplaying The Fast Show’s ‘Suits You Sir’ duo, and they really should work such an intervention into the act. Failing that, if window-shopping the exhibition’s designs for life proves too tempting, the gallery’s actual shop could probably serve up some kind of shopping therapy. Maybe best hang fire awhile, though. The January sales will be along any day. That’s fashion.
Beagles and Ramsay’s exhibition NHOTB & RAD is exhibited at the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow until 28th April 2024