diamond geezer

 Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two artworks have been selected from a shortlist of six to appear on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square (at some undetermined time in the near but not immediate future). What does London think?

One and Other (Antony Gormley)
One and Other (model)What is it? It's an empty plinth with a safety net around it.
But that's a bit dull, isn't it? Well it would be, except that members of the public will be invited to stand on it for an hour each, 24 hours a day, for 100 consecutive days.
But how many people is that althogether? Only 2400. The other seven and a half million of us can just go along and watch.
But what will these people do? Ah, now that's the big question. I suspect lots of people will have grand arty performance ideas, but then get all embarrassed and freeze once they're up on the plinth.
But has the artist said anything which resembles pretentious drivel? Yes. "Through elevation onto the plinth and removal from common ground the subjective living body becomes both representation and representative, encouraging consideration of diversity, vulnerability and the individual in contemporary society". Sheesh.
But what are the big unanswered questions? How do you apply? Won't it just attract nutters and self-publicists? Who's going to vet the ideas? Will access be via a big step ladder, or will regulations demand a big intrusive wheelchair-friendly ramp? Won't it be a huge disappointment if you end up with the 3am shift on a wet Tuesday morning and have to perform to a couple of drunken layabouts, a street cleaner and some sleepy pigeons? If every single one of the 2400 hours needs to be supervised, how much is all this going to cost? What if some ugly racist wants to stand on the plinth and spout evil, who will stop them? Who'll be the first blogger to get a place on the plinth, and how smug will they be? Next time there's a big concert in Trafalgar Square, can I stand on the plinth for an hour to get a great view? (I promise to keep quiet)
But do you like it? Yes, it's a genius simple idea which'll create a three-month talking point for London.
But why is your photo so poor? Because I took it while I was on a City Hall walkabout last month, but I only snapped Gormley's design accidentally in the background of another shot. It's OK, I've cropped out the meerkats.

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle (Yinka Shonibare)
What is it?
It's a ship in a bottle, dumbhead.
But it can't be? Well it's a model of a ship, obviously. But it'll be a damned big model inside a proper huge glass bottle. Woo, big ship, small neck!
But these days everyone knows how they get models of ships into bottles, so why is this a clever idea? Because the ship in question is Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, to be watched over by the great Admiral himself up on his column.
But Nelson won't actually be watching, will he? No, because he has a blind eye. And because he's facing completely the wrong way. And because he's an inanimate statue.
But how does this artwork breathe precious wind into the sails of London's ethnic wealth? The sails' fabric is made of a special Indonesian batik design, mass produced by the Dutch and sold to the colonies in West Africa, and is therefore symbolic of African identity and independence. As every visitor to Trafalgar Square will undoubtedly notice.
But what are the big unanswered questions? Is the glass vandalproof? And, more importantly, is it pigeonproof?
But do you like it? Yes, it beats a stuffy statue of another wartime leader.
But where's your photo? Ah, sorry, I didn't think to take a photo of the ship-in-a-bottle model while I was on my City Hall walkabout. I did take a photo of Tracey Emin's meerkats, thinking their hideous twee cheerfulness was bound to win, but thankfully it didn't.

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