A Twist on ‘Public’ Art

The Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square

The Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square

This weekend, sculptor Antony Gormley is hosting several guest “artists” on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. I’ve written about this before. Winners were chosen by a computer algorithm from a set of 615 contenders.

The 100-day event, called One & Other, is sculptor Antony Gormley‘s winning submission in the long-running scheme that allows artists to fill the plinth for a limited period. One & Other will, Gormley suggests, “be like opening up a Pandora’s box of ideas”.

Among the chosen “living sculptures” revealed this weekend are:

  • David Rosenberg, a 41-year-old architect, will mount his pink, folding bike and use pedal power to light up a specially designed suit.
  • Retired teacher Gwynneth Pedler, who at 83 is the oldest “plinther” selected so far, plans to go up in her wheelchair and signal messages with semaphore flags.
  • Oliver Parsons-Baker, 26, an aquatic scientist from Birmingham, plans to highlight the global shortage of clean water by dressing up in a “poo costume” and then he will then change into a fish costume to illustrate the dangers of over-fishing.

It’s the ultimate public art piece: it promotes social engagement, features the public itself, and is live performance art all rolled into one. It’s “Survivor” slash “Big Brother” slash insert-favorite-voyeur-show-here — but with an artistic twist. In fact, several UK tv stations plan to air parts of the ballyhoo.

Where would this take place in the U.S.? Thinking of places similar to Trafalgar…. In Times Square? Dupont Circle? Fenuil Hall?

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