Wednesday 9 January 2008

The agony of choice

The argument over what should go on the vacant (or, to be more precise, not permanently occupied) fourth-plinth at Trafalgar Square continues. Horrifying as it is to believe, one of the following proposals will be commissioned to desecrate the square (albeit not permanently, thank Heavens!):

It was Antony Gormley who came up with the most fun proposal. He wants the plinth to be empty except for volunteers who will stand on it for an hour at a time, 24 hours a day. Over the year he estimates 8,760 people would take part.

He said Trafalgar Square was an "outdated, valedictory, monumental kind of military space and it should be a civilian space. How responsible we are on the plinth is up to us. People can get drunk up there if they want, it's entirely up to them. The rule is you can take up whatever you want, whatever you can carry."

The most overtly political statement comes from Jeremy Deller, who is proposing a burnt-out car that has been destroyed in an attack on civilians in Iraq - the idea being that from the Romans onwards the spoils of war have been presented to a curious public.

He said: "I've gone for something which is deliberately ugly and jarring."

The most bullish of the artists present was Bob & Roberta Smith (a pseudonym for Patrick Brill), behind what would be the most eye-catching piece. He is proposing a 100ft tall illuminated peace sign (Faites L'Art, pas La Guerre or Make Art, Not War) which would be powered by the sun and wind. "Mine is the best proposal, it's as simple as that. All the advice I've had is that it will work."

Anish Kapoor's Sky Plinth would have five large concave mirrors attached to the plinth facing upwards reflecting the clouds as they pass. Kapoor said: "For some time I've been preoccupied with the idea of bringing the sky down to the ground, turning the world upside down. The mirrors all catch the sky. It should be really beautiful."

Yinka Shonibare is proposing a piece called Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, which would be a scale replica of HMS Victory, in a bottle, and address issues of multiculturalism. "It's a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the UK."
Tracey Emin's proposal is titled Something for the Future, and consists of a sculpture of four meerkats "as a symbol of unity and safety". Emin was the only artist not present at the launch yesterday but her publicity material said she had noticed that "whenever Britain is in crisis or, as a nation, is experiencing sadness and loss (for example, after Princess Diana's funeral), the next programme on television is Meerkats United".
So, a nice mix of leftist propaganda, vacuous pretension, and utter lunacy, with a complete absence of anything requiring the slightest modicum of originality or artistic ability. In other words, just what one would expect from the world of the modern "arts".

You can see representations of what these "artworks" will look like at the Fourth Plinth website, here. Difficult as it may be to believe, these pieces actually look even worse than they sound. They'd be better off leaving the plinth vacant.

Mind you, a member of the public interviewed on London Tonight yesterday seemed to be on to something. Stick a pillory up there (there always used to be a pillory at Charing Cross), and put a politician in it. Or, indeed, Anthony Gormley, or any of the other talentless charlatans listed above.


Homophobic Horse said...

From the Naked Communist (Cleon Skousen)
Noted in U.S. Congressional Record on January 10, 1963

Communist Goals:

22. Continue discrediting [Bourgeois] culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."

JuliaM said...

"He wants the plinth to be empty except for volunteers who will stand on it for an hour at a time, 24 hours a day."

Clearly, he wasn't paying attention to the recent stunt at Tower Bridge by David Blaine. That certainly brought out the best in the British public... ;)

Anonymous said...

Nothing - no matter how absurd, vulgar, or perverted - surprises me any more as far as contemporary "works of art" are concerned.

Perhaps Ken Livingstone should commission a statue of himself for the space in Trafalgar Square: preferably wearing a clown's costume, complete with cap of folly.l

Homophobic Horse said...

To this day I can't fully believe that Tony Blair called his party "New Labour", for a while I just thought it was some journalistic quip, but no it was real. Tony Blair believes that the "New" is automatically better then the old.

I thnk the millenium dome; a rotting heap of new-age rubbish, perfectly surmises the Blair years.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of a Ken Livingslime statue too. More along the lines of him hanging in a lynching stylee. Im prepared to take advice from Anthony Gormley on this, perhaps the real Red Ken could be persuaded to take part. Of necessity this would be only temporary...