The British art duo of sticking-to-their-guns well-into-their-40s punks, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, have always put on an oddball sort of performance of being a couple. Perhaps it’s not surprising that they worked for Gilbert & George back in the 1990s: Noble and Webster have gained notoriety for their heterosexual artistic codependency ever since.
It’s hard to not be charmed by their spotlit assemblages of trash, bones, taxidermied animals, or cast body-parts that cast shadows forming portraits of the couple (and maybe apt metaphors for coupledom). Probably their most self-abnegating/self-celebrating romantic gesture was 1997’s The New Barbarians, which they commissioned a sculptor from Madame Tussaud’s to create: a dual self-portrait as australopithecines (pre-cavemen who walked upright and had our teeth but had brains the size of apes’).
In 2008, Noble and Webster were married by their fellow YBA artist-friend Tracey Emin, which was also the year they last had a show in New York. Now they’re back, with an exhibition called “Blind Painting” at the Suzanne Geiss Company. To make these paintings, Noble and Webster blindfolded themselves to make portraits of each other from memory.
This video, oddly romantic and, again, amusingly simian in its feet-as-hands ambidexterity, shows them painting nude portraits of each other with their feet. “I was walking around the studio barefoot and picked up a paintbrush between my toes and started to paint,” explains Noble. “It felt wrong, the wrong way to go about creating a work of art, to have little or no control as the foot decides to go on its own little walk, but often doing the wrong thing can ultimately open doors.”