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What would you do with your plinth moment?

Razia Iqbal | 17:13 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

On the face of it, Antony Gormley's latest public work of art is pleasingly democratic and novel.


Giving the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square - one of the most prestigious platforms for public sculpture - over to 2,400 individuals to stand on for an hour at a time, could be viewed as radical and innovative, and on one level it is. The counter view is that it is faddish; a gimmick and without artistic merit.

There is something moving about this latest project by Gormley, an artist who has carved out a stellar reputation for routinely filling landscapes with his art instead of having it inside galleries (though he has done that too).

The individuals who are standing on the plinth can do whatever they want, as long as it's legal. They have the National Gallery as their backdrop. And what could be more monumental than standing in Trafalgar Square, a place which embodies paying homage to the traditional type of military or establishment statue?

But what makes this project interesting is that it is anti-monumental; giving the plinth over to the ordinary man or woman places value and merit in elevating the ordinary. I know it will be the spectacular and the eccentric which will capture the headlines. Tomorrow, a scientist raising awareness of lack of clean water, will spend his hour dressed as a giant poo. But I must confess that the most interesting aspect of this project will be the ones who do nothing. Who stand, or sit and reflect.

The potential for profound transformation of some kind is great. And for the viewer too. What would you do with your plinth moment?


  • Comment number 1.

    I'd give my slot to a tourist who just happened by. Something they would talk about, even if just to their friends and family, for the rest of there life. That would be cool.

  • Comment number 2.

    whoops. 'their' life. Cooler still!

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    The individual has become lost in the modern world, a faceless corporate or governmental cog. Human beings must climb up on high towers to be noticed. Reflect on our human expereince or just what it means to be an individual in the modern world. The best thing is that no one will be trying to sell them something...can remove the shell of "consumer" and become a person. Shove off the cynical politicians and money lenders and stand proud as the foundation of it all.

  • Comment number 5.

    So who is getting paid? Bet the extras are getting nothing. Easy money for Gormless. Does not much and gets paid for it while others do the work and get nothing. The whole event is merely a cheap monumental illustration of how the arts establishment just rips the people off yet again.

    "The potential for profound transformation of some kind is great."
    What? Any more or any less than sitting on the toilet?

    Yet another stiff idea from a stiff Gormless financed by the stiff dead arts establishment. Paid for from the taxes of the homeless.

  • Comment number 6.

    I wish I was closer to Trafalger Sq to have been able to enjoy this show, maybe even have taken part in this.
    Is there a no go area in being controversial?
    I mean, it appears to be the one way up, be controversial and you get recognised.
    However on the subject of art I have other reservations....
    At the age of 13 I was given an opportunity to decide what I wanted to do career wise. I chose art because I enjoyed art, (in the way 13 year olds do) and I ruined my academic career thereafter, forever after.

    You ruined my life ART-


  • Comment number 7.

    It should be fairly obvious now Gormley has no sense of scale. It certainly puts the rest of his work into perspective.

  • Comment number 8.

    thepastymuncher wrote:

    Having recently visited Feild for the British Isles currently in Torquay until August I do have to ask what part Mr Gormley plays in these installations - thousands of terracotta morphs made by a community, moved by removal teams and set up by the installation crew - no sign of Antony in any of the stages of the making or displaying.

    Maybe pportunities like this should be used to exhibit the "Best of British" for example a selection of British icons - telephone box, bobby on the beat, del boys robin reliant .... any more suggestions?

  • Comment number 9.

    A fool´s hat on a post-modern attention seeking,empty of sense society.

  • Comment number 10.

    The one hundred days have come and gone. I turned down my place on the plinth and while I was initially enthusiastic about the project after seeing how it was realised I became disappointed.

    The main problem for me was that by placing cameras so close to the plinth and having them stream the audio as well, 24/7, it sadly became more of a reality TV experience than one of sculpture or installation. I have spoken to other people who were offered places and then had second thoughts and their reasons were similar to mine.

    Saying that the Fourth Plinth project was democratic and representative of the nation and it's people is akin to saying that the TV show Big Brother is all these things.

    The attention seekers and charity do-gooders completely thwarted Gormley's intentions and turned installation into spectacle. The weight of having to decide 'what to do' during their hour was simply too much for most Plinthers and their often unsuccessful attempts to be 'Novel' and 'Different' rendered the vast majority simply 'More of the same'.

    I feel that by placing a single camera some distance away from the plinth, so that the location and 'installation' of the plinth was more apparent, by not broadcasting any sound, by requesting that people only wore their normal attire or work clothes and that they 'did' nothing, the project may have been more successful and perhaps closer to the artists original intentions.

    It rained like crazy during 'my' hour. No regrets.



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