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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What a Great Idea!

In London, there's a little place called Trafalgar Square. And by little, I mean huge and massively impressive. It's surrounded by these beautiful old buildings, which include the National Gallery, and some giant fountains. In the middle of the square is a giant column with the war hero Admiral Nelson perched on the top, towering over all of London.

At each corner of the square, there are these pedestals. 3 of them hold statues of British heroes from the colonization of India. The fourth, originally meant for William IV, was left empty for budgetary reasons. That is, until 1999 when the Royal Society for the Arts started "The Fourth Plinth Project". Now, each year a new work of contemporary art is commissioned by the group to fill the empty column.

Last year, the place was occupied by Thomas Schutte's "Model for a Hotel". It's a monster glass structure that weighs 8 tons!

This year, the commision went to Anthony Gormely. He decided to use the space for a project called "One & Other", in which hourly, 24 hours a day for 100 days, a regular british person gets a chance to stand on the plinth and do whatever they want, provided it's legal. I really like that Gormely took the Royal Society's concept of allowing a new person a chance to display work every year, and turned around to give 2,400 people an amazing opportunity.

The concept is supposed to create a representation of common humanity, in a place usually reserved for the reverence of heroes and kings. The participants of the project are selected by lottery. It's such a neat idea, and it's interesting what people decide to do with their hour on the plinth.

The stage seems to be a popular place to spread messages about a cause.

This woman released helium balloons for a charity.

This guy wore a panda costume and talked on his cell phone the whole time. Maybe that board has his number on it?
This guy had a 4 am time slot, and rocked out for all surly party animals heading home from the bars.

I love what this lady did. How cool would it be to get a chance to sketch the square from this unique perspective?

This guy wrote various messages on his slate through hour, including "I am not a pidgeon".

So cool. The project just started yesterday, so there are 99 days full of human sculptures to go, including 83 year old Gwyneth Pedler, who plans to sit up there in her wheelchair doing semaphore code with flags.

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