O-o-o Kate, Kate and Cindy and Crystal and Candy/ Mercedes and Joan, Betty and Brenda/ Suzie and Anita and Phoebe and Jack Jackie-O/ These are the girls of the USA/ The principal girls of the USA

52 Girls the B-52’s 1979

“52 GIRLS takes its title from an old B-52’s song. That song was to blame for my believing that there were 52 states in the USA. I misheard it, or re-imagined the lyrics to be that they were singing about a different girl from each of the 52 states of the USA. If you count the girls names in the song you come up with 26 if you include the repeat of “Kate “and treat the “Jack “before “Jackie O “as a kind of rhythmic stammer. But the way I heard it they recited all 52. It was only when answering a pub quiz two years ago that I learned of my error and remembered its source (there are only 50 states in the USA).

Like a parade of trashy beauty queens in an archaic pageant, the names evoke an America of fin-tailed Cadillacs, proms, drive-ins and fun. “But can you name them today? “the song asks, as though by 1979 that era was long over. It was. The B-52’s looked like they were wearing fancy dress (which was the idea), and escaping the trappings of the late 70’s. Let’s face it, by the late ‘70’s we all wished it was still the 60’s.

My show at Maureen Paley is a meditation on various feminine aspects; glamour, expressions of femininity, female influences on my life (except my mother with whom I am locked in a stalemate – she doesn’t speak to me anymore and even moved house last year without telling me), and is also an exploration of my own ‘feminine’ phase (I did drag for years and years).
This is my largest solo show so far, and I will be showing large paintings, wall drawings, smaller ink on paper works, with some sculptural elements.”

Donald Urquhart