♪ Christine: Hello and welcome to "Amanpour and Company."
Here is what is coming up.
>> If you are not a climate vulnerable country, you may become one.
Christine: The clock is ticking to climate catastrophe.
I speak about solutions with the environmental envoy from Barbados, at risk of going under.
Then, poverty by America.
A Princeton professor tells Michelle Martin why there are still too many poor people in the richest country on earth.
Plus -- >> ♪ there is only one place that I know and that is where I sleep Underneath your chest I dream my dreams away ♪ Christine: Partners in art and in life.
The inimitable Gilbert and George give me an up close look at their weird and wonderful world.
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Christine: Welcome to the program.
A big victory for a small country.
The Pacific island of then want to is one step closer to getting the world's highest court to weigh in on the climate crisis for the first time ever.
Backed by the United Nations, it is asking the international Court of Justice to clearly lay out how countries must address the warming planet.
Around the world the devastation so far is just a tiny glimpse of what could be coming.
As Mississippi digs its out from severe tornadoes and Pakistanis are still homeless from last summer's floods.
Action is needed now and no one is feeling the panic more acutely than Vanuatu, Barbados, and other tiny island nations that fear being swallowed up by the sea.
The premised are of Barbados has become a climate activist rock star, clearly Camino getting what is at stake for Barbados and the bigger countries that think they are immune.
>> We really are hoping that their conscience will be pricked and they realize no one is safe until everyone is safe.
In my country we have a saying, the only way you can feel.
In other words, those who don't listen will ultimately pay the price.
Christine: The prime minister has a kindred's spirit in my first guest tonight.
Together they are pushing the Bridgetown initiative that is named for their capital city to help for end delay climate change damage.
Welcome to the program.
What discussions are you having?
You are traveling internationally.
>> We just had our first transition committee meeting.
This is about loss and damage.
There are three basic parts of the climate issue.
There is how do we mitigate the climate for a better future, more sustainable, low carbon?
How do we adapt for the damage we have already done?
The third most difficult piece is how do we pay for the loss and damage that is being impacted today?
That is about money and who pays, that is the most political issue.
Christine:Christine: If I'm not mistaken that is about big polluting countries paying smaller nations that don't pollute such as Barbados, your country.
>> I would not say it is that.
The area of the world that is being most impacted today, the United Nations reckons four times more than the rest of the world.
It is between the tropics of cancer and Capricorn, the band around the equator.
It is 40% of the world.
Christine: That is huge.
>> 3.2 billion people.
Christine: You were discussing what was agreed at COP.
It was the one major area of progress they were able to talk about.
How is that the same or different to what you and your premised or are working on, the Bridgetown initiative, which involves money for damage and mitigation?
>> The Bridgetown initiative is not a place, it is a set of ideas.
It is about the planet.
We reckon that if things are going to change, they will not change for the smallest islands in the world.
Even though we may be the canaries in themine.
We are where you are seeing the rub of climate change.
If they make a change, it has to benefit the whole world.
The Bridgetown initiative is about creating a global coalition around a set of ideas.
A key component of that idea is changing the planet's sustainability.
It will really impact us directly but it will indirectly.
Christine: For people who may not understand fully the dynamic of this initiative, what is your easy explanation of that?
>> It's breaking down what we need to do in five practical, achievable things, that together really do transform the system.
It is about recognizing that no one is writing big checks but there is a check to write, it is for loss of damage.
Recognizing that World Bank could do a lot more, and if they resisted -- if they invested in resilience they could make a difference.
And we need to mitigate the climate.
That requires some guarantees and some commitments and support.
The initiative is about those things happening together.
Christine: Aren't you hoping that it fundamentally changes the way big institutions like the IMF, maybe other governments, direct funds to countries like yourself?
>> There is already a fair bit of a liberal warming baked into the system.
Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting.
We need to build resilience among but there is no point being resilient in 20 years, we have to be resilient now.
We would go bust if we spent all of the money we have on being resilient today.
So we need the World Bank -- Christine: You, individual countries would go bust.
>> All the climate affected countries would go bust.
So we need a super long term, very low cost lending by those institutions for us to pay for the resilience today.
Christine: We know at least the French president Macron supports the initiative.
The recent IPCC report said if climate goals are to be achieved, both adaptation and mitigation financing would need to increase many-fold.
There is sufficient global capital to close the investment gaps but there are barriers to redirect capital to climate action.
So, you know there is sufficient funds, but apparently the logistics are the problem.
Is that correct?
>> There are two big issues we have.
The most important is actually mitigating, so transforming the world to a low carbon world, so we are not using fossil fuels.
And that will impact the whole planet, not just the vulnerable states.
That is the most expensive.
That is trillions of dollars.
The obstacle to that is that the cost of that transition in developing countries is about four, five times the cost in the rich countries.
The rich countries are no longer the main sources of pollution.
The United States is still, but the rest have become much more efficient, even the United States, and developing countries are becoming big emitters.
Christine: Such as India and China.
>> So we need to transition these countries if they are going to continue to develop and become as wealthy as the wealthy countries, at the same use of fossil fuels, this would have consequences.
We need to transition.
They rightfully are concerned about the justice of the spirit why should they bear the cost when the rich countries did not adjust?
So we need to find -- the Bridgetown initiative is about financing the transition so it is not a burden on their development.
Christine: To that end, I will play a soundbite from the head of the IMF around the U.N. General assembly in September.
This is what she says about this issue.
>> I can tell you Bradley the IMF -- proudly the IMF today is a significant systemic institution in the fight against climate change.
We bring it in our policies, in our financing.
That is how the world has to absorb it.
What is my role?
What I can do to ensure that my daughter, my grandchildren have a future?
Christine: Are you satisfied with the position of the IMF, maybe even the World Bank?
The IMF created the resilience and sustainability trust last year, aiming to be a resource of some 42 billion, some of which going to Barbados.
Are you satisfied with what she said?
>> In the international financial system, the IMF is the bank.
And it provides short-term liquidity.
And it really has stepped up to the plate to recognize that some of the short-term problems are related to natural disasters.
But it is only one part of the system.
We need to double or triple the amount of lending the World Bank and other developed banks do to make countries more resilient to deal with climate change.
They have not done that yet.
They are talking the right language but we have not seen that yet.
Christine: and why not?
>> Well, there is a reluctance for organization to change.
Change almost indicates that there was a problem before.
Christine: Which there is.
>> Most definitely.
I would rather say there is a moment today where there is an alignment of interests and concern.
I think we have a moment that we needed to grasp, where they can double their lending.
Although these things become political because they are about money and who is contributing.
The Bridgetown initiative is a way in which they can make a big step without everyone -- without anyone having to worry about disproportionately contributing.
Christine: How, though?
How does this initiative contribute and make this big step?
For instance, you have been successful in negotiating limit change causes to be included in Barbados bond agreements and the like.
>> We recognize that we are in a world where governments are not being elected in order to fund foreigners.
Sadly, they are being elected to deport foreigners.
We have to recognize that is the world we are operating.
There are a set of things in which they could make major change without everyone -- without anyone having to write a big check.
So we can make the system more shock absorbing.
We have these clauses in our bonds and we want them to be in everyone's bonds, which means when a disaster hits you have two years of breathing room to adjust.
We also want to find ways in which we can guarantee investments to mitigate the world's climate, to drive investment into China and other countries, and India, and make that transformation.
We want the World Bank to sweat its balance sheet.
They have a lot of capital, but they are very conservative.
We need to make them loosen up in terms of what they are prepared to do with what they've got.
We think they can double the amount they can lend.
Christine: That is the bottom line, to make them more amenable to do with what they have got.
It is not like they don't have this money.
>> A lot of the money that they have got is callable capital.
The idea is your write something that says if you are about to go bust, I will put some money in.
But I'm not putting in money yet.
That is the cheapest way of allowing the institutions to lend more, with the comfort of these letters.
They have lots of these letters.
If they use these, we believe they can double the amount of their lending.
If the focus of that new money was on poverty and resilience for this changing world, we think that would make a big step.
It's not the only step, but it would be a big step.
Christine: You are saying these big institutions are not quite there yet.
President Biden just nominated A.J.
banker to lead the World Bank.
How much better is that than David, who did not necessarily come to the table on climate?
>> I don't think it will be about one individual.
It is about the entire institutions.
I think it is easier to make change with a new person.
Christine: Would he be more inclined, you think?
What in his past gives you comfort?
>> Let me say the circumstances of him arriving I think -- he and everyone else is conscious of those circumstances, of a need to do more.
But we need action, not just willingness.
Christine: You have been working with the Prime Minister.
She has given an incredibly powerful speech, certainly at the COP I was out in Glasgow and again on the latest one.
This is what she said in 2021 about where we need to be and where we might not be.
>> 1.5 is what we need to survive.
2 degrees, yes, is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Bermuda, for the people of the Maldives and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique, and yes, for the people of Samoa and Barbados.
We do not want that dreaded death sentence.
We have come here today to say, try harder.
Because our people, the climate Army, the world, the planet, needs our actions now.
Christine: It's dramatic.
It is also very relatable and accessible.
She speaks in terms that people can understand.
And yet we all know that there is -- it is very sticky.
What more creative ways are there, if there is such things, to get these things out, given what the IPCC said that it's not going in the right direction?
>> They are not feeling what those in between the tropics of cancer and Capricorn are feeling.
They are not feeling the third of the entire population of Pakistan who are homeless, 27,000 --Christine: Under those terrible floods.
>> But they are feeling extreme heat, extreme cold, unusual temperatures.
Christine: And storms we have seen in the U.S. >> One of the things about identifying the climate runnable, if you are not a small island state you will not become one.
But if you are not a climate vulnerable country, you may become one.
Everyone is beginning to recognize this is something where they are all involved.
It is sad that it needs that for people to make contributions that they should be making, but last summer people experienced heat waves and flooding -- Christine: Fires, really biblical issues.
>> We have a moment.
It is really 12 months.
We think by next year with the U.S. presidential election, people will be distracted.
We have a moment now.
Christine: Talking of presidential elections, I don't know whether this affects you are not, but the Amazon is something that that part of the world shares in terms of the lungs of the world.
We know what happened under resident Bolsonaro and what the new president Lula is promising, to restore and to stop the threat there.
The Washington Post in a fairly recent investigation revealed that some of that deforestation is to make way for cattle pastors, i.e.
the international beef trade.
The EU agreed on a law that allowed products to not come from any deforested land.
However did is -- How important is that, these kinds of regulations that would gov ern the Amazon and other deforested areas?
>> We now have an administration in Brazil that seems to be committed on defending the Amazon, on acting responsibly on climate.
We had great meetings with their team as early as the last COP meeting.
So I think the world is very hopeful and has high expectations.
But you also touched on another issue, which is we are in danger as a world of dissenting into a protectionist environment for which climate is almost being used as an excuse.
We have to make sure we have regional national industrial strategies that does not descend into internationalism, and basically the creation of these trade barriers.
If we do -- Christine: What are you saying, that this is not very constructive?
>> We have to do this internationally rather than nationally or regionally.
There is an opportunity.
If we do it nationally we are ending up in a protectionist, segregated world.
Christine: If I were to ask, what keeps you up at night?
>> We have a lot of attention, a moment, and that we have to make sure we do our best to push this agenda, this initiative, to the best of our abilities.
In five years it will be too late.
Christine: Thank you so much indeed.
Climate disruption adds to global poverty.
Our next guest believes that can be eradicated but only by getting enough people to make the change.
Despite being the richest country, the United States has a higher rate of poverty than any other advanced democracy.
A let's or prize-winning author Matthew Desmond is joining Michelle Martin to explain why the problem persists.
This conversation is part of our ongoing initiative about poverty, jobs, and economic opportunity in America cold "chasing the dream."
MICHELLE: thank you so much for talking with us once again.
The last time we talked with you, we talked about your book "evicted," critically acclaimed, best seller.
Just as the title implies, it dug into the origins and scope of the eviction phenomenon in the U.S..
Your latest book deals with similar ideas, but it feels different.
In a way it feels like a book that you have been waiting to write your whole life.
Do you want to talk about that?
Matthew: that is right.
I have been researching and reporting on poverty all my adult life.
I have lived in poor neighborhoods, I've dug into the statistics.
I did not feel like I had an answer to this pressing question, which is why is there so much poverty in this incredibly rich country?
This book is my response.
I think there has always been something about the American poverty debate that did not sit well with me.
I remember reading a line by a novelist where he writes 'these kids are jumping out of the windows of burning buildings, falling to their deaths, and we think the problem is that they are jumping.'
When I read that, man that sounds like the poverty debate.
We have been focused so much on the poor themselves.
We need to be focusing on the fire, who lit it, who is warming their hands by it.
This is a book about the fire, how some lives are made a small so others may grow.
Christine: You say poverty is often material scarcity piled on chronic pain, piled on incarceration, piled on depression, piled on addiction, on and on it goes.
Talk about some of the people that you profile in the book and the way you say poverty isn't one thing, it piles on and folds in on itself.
Matthew: That is right.
When I was spending time in Milwaukee for my last book I met grandmother's living without heat in Wisconsin, sleeping under blankets all winter long, praying the space heater did not go out.
I saw kids evicted all the time.
The courtroom in the eviction court is just brimming over with children facing homelessness every day in that city and across the country.
America harbors a hard bottom layer of poverty.
It is not just about a lack of money, it's about a lack of choice, about pain, Millie Asian, the nauseating -- humiliation, the nauseating fear of eviction.
It can really drive us to address this problem.
Poverty isn't just a lack of income, it's this exhausting collection of social maladies.
Michelle: is it your argument that the United States is fairly unique in that among affluent nations, that you just don't find peer economies in which the level of misery is what it is in the United States?
Matthew: That is right.
We really are in a class all our own when it comes to the level of poverty we tolerate amongst all this wealth.
There is no other advanced democracy that has the kind of poverty in the depths of poverty that we have.
While abroad I often heard Europeans use the phrase American-style deprivation.
They can see it.
Our child poverty rate is twice than Germany or South Korea or Canada, for example.
We are lagging behind other advanced democracies when it comes to addressing poverty.
Michelle: Your point of view is that poverty persists because the nonpoor benefit from it.
Matthew: We often consume the cheap goods and services that the working poor produce.
Those of us invested in the stock market like healthy returns, even those with -- even if those returns come at the cost of a human sacrifice with poorly paid labor.
A lot of us protect our tax breaks like our mortgage interest deduction, but those tax breaks accrue to the wealthiest among us.
Doing so starves anti-poverty programs because we invest a lot more in subsidizing affluence than alleviating deprivation.
Then the country continues to be segregationist.
We continue to build walls around our communities and hoard opportunity behind those walls.
We need to start taking responsibility for all the scarcity in our midst.
Michelle: Let's put this into different buckets, although you make the art event it is all related.
-- the argument it is all related.
One of the things you point out in the book is from 1980 to 2017 there was a 237% increase in federal spending on poverty programs.
That is not a small amount of money.
Just in total dollar terms.
So why is it that the misery you describe persists?
Matthew: Some might say it is because government spending does not have a real effect on poverty, but that is wrong.
There is a massive pile of research that shows government programs directed at our poorest families are incredibly effective, even efficient.
They prevent millions from plunging into hunger and listen us every year.
But they clearly aren't enough now.
Part of the reason is because we have not fully addressed the exploitation of the poor in the labor market and housing market and in the financial market.
Every day $61 million are pulled out of the pockets of poor families in terms of overdraft fees, check cashing fees, payday loan fees.
When James Baldwin wrote how expensive it is to be poor, he could not imagine those kind of numbers.
Unless we address that exploitation we will not build sturdy permanent foundation on which we can climb out of poverty for everyone.
Michelle: Even with direct federal assistance, in most places you say the majority of that money does not get directly to people who are under resourced, that there are only two states where a majority of their assistance under the TANF program goes directly into cash assistance.
That in most states echoes other places.
-- it goes other places.
Where does it go?
Matthew: Two points are important.
One is that a dollar in a federal budget does not mean one dollar in a family's budget.
Take TANF or cash welfare, for every dollar budgeted only $.22 ends up with the family in terms of direct aid.
States get a lot of leeway about how they spend their money.
States have used that money to spend on Christian summer camps or abstinence only classes, marriage initiatives.
Many of these things don't have anything to do with reducing poverty.
Other states simply sit on the money.
Tennessee last time I checked was sitting on over $700 million in unspent welfare funds.
Hawaii was sitting on enough to give every poor kid in its state $10,000.
That is one thing going on.
The second thing that is important is that a lot of poor families don't take advantage of programs they deserve.
We hear a lot about welfare dependency, but the bigger problem is welfare of ordinance -- welfare avoidance, that families are leaving billions on the table every year.
1 in 5 elderly Americans who could qualify for food stamps, they don't take advantage of that.
Michelle: Why is that?
Is it that the process of getting these benefits is just too hard?
Or because there is a stigma attached to it?
Why is it that people don't get the benefits they actually are entitled to?
Matthew: All that is part of it.
We used to think stigma is the biggest reason why folks were not relying on these programs but it seems the much bigger reason is we made them unnecessarily hard.
We wrapped these programs in regulations and we make it incredibly confusing.
This is also hopeful, though.
Studies show just increasing the font or connecting people with someone on the phone can bring a lot more benefits to families that need them today.
>> It can actually bring more benefits to families.
Michelle: one exception to that was during the Covid crisis when the federal government made aggressive efforts to get money to people directly.
There was a lot of debate about that.
There were some people who said we are paying people not to work.
But just in that time period, did that make a difference in alleviating poverty for some people?
>> It made a huge difference.
We were able to reduce child poverty by 46% in six months.
We expanded the child tax credit, which is a check mailed to families with moderate and low incomes.
We cut child poverty almost in half.
We reduced evictions to historic lows.
Renters finally got a breath and were able to stay in their home and not face homelessness during the pandemic.
And it did not seem to cost jobs.
One some states got rid of those benefits early in other states didn'’’t, the states that got rid of their benefits did not see their job numbers jump up.
We made these historic, incredible investments in reducing poverty.
I would like that to become the new normal.
Michelle: Let'’’s talk about the non-cash, non-direct government assistance or lack thereof.
Talk about the ways in which you feel these income subsidies were down to the benefit of the middle class and the upper-middle-class and not necessarily to the poor.
Give one or two examples.
>> When we think about the welfare state, we usually think about cash welfare and public housing.
We should also think about things like the mortgage interest deduction.
The 529 savings plan.
Tax breaks we get.
That is also part of the welfare state.
Both tax breaks and a check cost the government money both of those putting come in somebody'’’s pocket.
If you add up all of the benefits that the government is giving out, social insurance, tax breaks, you learned that every year in America the top 20% of us receive about $36,000 from the government and the bottom 20% receive only 25,000 dollars from the government.
That is almost a 40% difference.
We are doing a lot more two guard fortunes then expand opportunity.
Michelle: What role do you think race plays in this?
It is a part of it, but not all of it.
Is there an interplay between the way we think about race and the way these systems persist?
>> Absolutely there is.
It is impossible to write a book about poverty without also writing about racism and race in the United States.
A big role race plays in the story segregation.
White affluent Americans continued to be the most segregated group in the country.
We built these communities where basically the only people who can live in the communities are affluent homeowners.
The majority of whom are white in this country.
Thinking about an end of poverty is also thinking about how to tear down those walls and embrace more inclusive communities.
So race plays a huge role there.
It also plays a role into how people understand the poor.
There are a lot of discouraging studies that show people will likely vote yes on an anti-poverty program if they think the benefit is not going to African-American families.
I think the country'’’s legacy of racism and the countries legacy of economic exploitation have gone hand-in-hand.
Michelle: Your book has been incredibly well received.
>> I think the country is ready for this conversation.
There are so many of us fed up with the old stories of poverty and bootstrapping and responsibility.
And I think that we want a more fair society.
I think many of us who are not poor feel complicit in all of this poverty around us and it drags us all down.
So many of us are struggling and I also want a new story about why it is so hard to get ahead in the land of the free.
I do not know.
This is a driving issue of our day.
This is a morally urgent issue that many Americans want to have this conversation.
Michelle: You did not grow up wealthy.
You talk about it very openly in the book.
You have experienced losing your home.
You have experienced having to work very hard to get through school, not have been on the choices that you wanted to make.
>> I was given opportunities from the government.
I was given things like student loans and we often do not think about student loans as a government program, but it is.
I was given tuition remission at my State University.
That helped a lot.
I think I was able to recognize the weight that the government intervened in my life in ways that really did result in social climbing.
And I want the government that does more bad for everyone.
I want a government that is committed to ending poverty because I think that is the government that is obsessively committed to freedom and happiness and equal opportunity.
If that means I need to give up a few things that I now receive because I am a member of the professional class, that is a bargain I am willing to make.
For example, could it be the case that homeowners who get this big benefit from the government, start really thinking about that.
In 2020, we spent $190 billion on homeowner subsidies.
In a world where eviction is commonplace, where most renting families spend half of what they have on housing cost, that seems to be out luck with our values and our priorities.
Michelle: Thanks so much for talking with us today.
Always a pleasure.
Christiane: Turning now to the expectorant artist Gilbert and George.
Two people, one artist.
They produced some of the United Kingdom'’’s most contemporary work.
Now the do well, who were romantic partners, have opened a permanent exhibition space dedicated to the work in East London.
It showcases their decades long career, which I discover when they turned their creative full beam on me I had of the opening.
Welcome to our program.
>> Thank you very much.
Christiane: One artist, two people.
I think people are fascinated by that.
Tell me how it works.
Because your Gilbert and George and you create as one.
Is that right?
But it is the most usual arrangement in the world, including the animal kingdom.
>> What George does not do, I do.
Christiane: Are there any examples you can bring to mind?
Can you tell me how to pronounce it?
Does the goal.
Most people think of paradise as the after party.
When we were creating these pictures we were very conscious to create -- address the people who are great believers in the hereafter and the people who do not.
We try to be equally respectful to those two communities.
Christiane: Does religion come into it?
>> Religion is there.
We are part of the free world.
That was invented a long time ago.
You could say that we as artists are secularists.
>> But non-believers, that is very important.
Christiane: That is like having your cake and eating it too.
Christiane: This is amazing, the amount of color.
This is a brand-new Museum right near your home where you have lived for 50 years.
Tell me about it.
What was the idea as living artists to build this space now?
>> Because new museums do not have the space anymore and it is limited what they can show.
And we as artists, we started out with the idea that we wanted to be seen.
That is why, the only way to be seen is built your own little museum.
Christiane: The museums were not big enough for you.
That what you are saying?
>> We are conscious that we are part of a generation that came about believing that one day someone will knock on the door and propose an exhibition.
We never believed in that.
It is up to us to speak through art and art should reach people.
And for all is one of our earliest slogans.
-- art for all is one of our earliest slogans.
>> We made ourselves the subject of our art.
We are living sculptures.
Christiane: Which could be somewhat egotistical or it could be this unbelievable dynamic that you have created.
>> Yes, because it is a journey.
We are showing ourselves and what surrounds us.
>> Charles Dickens wrote all of the books.
Vincent van Gogh painted all of his pictures.
When you go to museums, somebody is looking at a tree, that is van Gogh speaking to them from the grave.
The Western tramp where we are all safe and free was created through culture, not from the policeman and not through the Vic are.
-- the figure -- the vicar.
>> We invented a living sculpture form.
Christiane: When you say art for all, do you mean this exhibition will be free?
But it is also our intention, we realize all of the fellow students and the teachers believed that art was another form in life.
It was not part of life.
They did not think it had anything to do with death or hope or life.
They thought it was to do with form.
So you can take those artworks onto the street and I would have no meaning.
We wanted art that would address anybody.
Christiane: Tell me the meaning of this because most of the art I have seen is all about living things and mostly nature.
Or am I wrong?
>> And people.
Christiane: But mostly the people argue.
>> The humanity of human beings, we are trying to express ourselves as human beings.
Like everybody else.
We do not want to be different.
>> As we speak, somebody is having a funeral and the person being buried is going to be promised eternal life.
As we speak, people are being promised life everlasting.
These pictures are about that subject and it addresses the belief that here and now is it.
We are trying to do with equal courtesy to those two groups of people.
Christiane: You do use some pretty outrageous words, at least many people might think they are, on many of your paintings.
>> Because it is normal.
It is totally normal.
>> Everybody uses it.
Christiane: This is one of my favorite ones.
I am somewhat offended by the name, date rape.
>> We know there was a lot of very bad behavior in the human world.
When we occasionally get exhausted during the day and watch a nature program, we see there was a lot of bad behavior in the animal world.
The fruit and the flowers.
This picture suggests that maybe there are possibilities.
They are calling out to the bumblebees to help them.
It is extraordinary.
>> One day we will know the language of trees and flowers.
>> The very word rape, you can hardly open a newspaper anywhere in the world without finding the word.
>> Even the Bible, nonstop.
Christiane: You have called yourselves conservatives.
At one point, you said maybe we signed our death warrant in the artistic world.
Do you believe that?
Is it that weird to be conservative artists?
>> I think in Britain for many years it was a bad thing to say that you are conservative.
It was as though you were weird or something.
We think conservative is more normal.
We think the other side is more foreign, revolutionary.
Conservative means normal, average.
>> That is why everybody is like oh my God, they behave like fantastic people.
But behind the scenes we do other stuff.
Christiane: Part of your living sculpture is this clothing.
>> We are able to go through the airport very easily.
Christiane: Because of the way you dress?
Because you look like upstanding citizens.
>> We can get tables anywhere in the world.
A few years ago we were in Lisbon where we had never been before and somebody in the hotel said you must strike the restaurant and another hotel.
It was an extremely grand place.
There was a very sophisticated snooty head waiter.
I said do you have a table for us?
And he said we always have a table for great artists.
Christiane: They recognize you.
When you call yourselves eccentric and -- eccentric?
>> Certainly not.
We are normal weird.
To be weird and normal at the same time is a good balance we think.
Christiane: Can I ask you because you have lived in this neighborhood, the East End of London, a rich culture of the City of London.
You have gotten your inspiration a lot from this part of London, right?
In what way?
>> We think the center of the world is [INDISCERNIBLE] Christiane: Why?
>> Because everything is there.
All the cultures of all over the world all end up here.
We have the most sophisticated here.
>> We live on a French Street built on a Roman cemetery.
We live a 10 minute walk from the house of the founder of the Free Press.
We also have a 10 minute walk from the most famous least written book.
It is also the dissident cemetery.
We are living in an amazing world of culture and history.
We believe in the past, present and future rolled into one.
Christiane: You are of Italian heritage.
>> I come from the mountains.
When I was young, I always wanted to be an artist.
I started out in one art school in Italy, then Germany and ended up in England.
Christiane: What do you do to each other?
-- what drew you to each other?
>> We have a very similar sense of purpose.
>> Maybe George took pity on me.
>> The school where we were at was so famous in that brief period.
There were camera crews from all over the world.
Christiane: Some of the great artists and fashion designers.
>> We felt like we were at the center of the universe.
>> That is why I wanted to be there.
After leaving, what is there?
So we started to walk the streets of London every night together.
We created that we could be the living sculptor.
That was it.
That was our invention.
Christiane: Not only are you doing that as a professional partnership, but you are also romantic life partnership.
It is why we found a certain truth, beauty and power when we were walking the streets of London.
We came across a secondhand shop .
There was a pile of old records.
The top one had the title underneath the arches.
We knew what that meant.
People damaged by the first world war.
Lots of people damaged by the second world war.
Lots of people damaged by the sex wars, before decriminalization.
Christiane: You met when homosexuality was decriminalized.
-- before homosexual he -- homosexuality was decriminalized.
>> Remember all of us decriminalized in ourselves.
We took the record home, found friend who could play it and we were amazed by the truth of the words because it matched how we felt like should be in general.
And I said there is only one place that I know and that is where I sleep, underneath the arches I dream my dreams away.
Underneath the arches, and cobblestones we lay.
Every night you will find me, tired out and worn.
♪ >> That was it.
Christiane: I do not know how to top that.
But I do know that you guys are completely in sync.
You finish each other'’’s sentences and you burst into song at the same time.
>> That group of people are all gone.
They have all died.
It is being replaced by another group, similarly disenfranchised.
They are young group of drug addicts.
They also have a feeling for life that we understand.
Christiane: Who do you want to come here?
>> Art for all.
>> We were walking last week and along came a young drug addict and some blood coming out of his ear.
He recognized us and made a comment on our art.
We laughed and we went home and cried.
Where is he now?
Where is his mother?
Christiane: Gilbert and George, thank you very much.
The gallery is open now.
It is well worth a visit.
That is it for our program tonight.
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