Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth

They say that if you give a million monkeys a typewriter, one of them will eventually come up with some Shakespeare. Some bright spark also thought that if you give 2400 monkeys a plinth to stand on for an hour, you’ll come up with art.

I am, of course, referring to the One & Other project currently running on the usually vacant Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, which runs until 14 October.

The brainchild of sculptor Antony ‘I designed the Angel of the North’ Gormley, the ‘artwork’ sees a sole person parading themselves for 60 agonising minutes above the streets of London, whilst Sky Arts films the lot and broadcasts it via the internet.

I can’t help but feel it’s a bit of a cop-out in the artistic stakes. The Mona Lisa probably took da Vinci a fair few man-hours, with regular coffee breaks and the odd biscotti. I like to think that Michelangelo broke a bit of a sweat as he deftly chiselled away at David’s marble member. Gormley, on the other hand, presumably gets to go to loads of posh dinners with BoJo and lets his monkey minions do all the work.

As for the calibre of the primates, there appears to be a number of distinct categories of human statue:

1. The Activist: Is only there to promote their message about a shortage of Monster Munch in Doncaster or to inform us of the ongoing plight of plankton.

2. The Musician: He’s that annoying twat who brings an acoustic guitar to every party, but can only actually play Yellow Submarine and the opening riff to Smoke on the Water. Usually has dreadlocks and an aversion to personal hygiene.

3. The Crushing Bore: Takes a chair and just sits there doing nothing, then he phones his girlfriend and chats to her for half an hour pretending to be nonchalant: ‘Yeah, just standing on the plinth’. Wanker.

4. The Office Joker: This one tries to be jovial with on-lookers. She wears home-made T-shirts with slogans that wouldn’t be out of place on a Moonpig greetings card. Probably refers to herself as ‘wacky’, ‘zany’ or ‘completely bonkers’. Actually is a complete tit.

The kind of person who gets excited at standing on a big piece of concrete in London is probably the same person who gets a semi-on at the announcement of a new Argos catalogue. Only instead of a laminated book of dreams, they end up standing in the pissing rain at 4am, dodging a machine-gunning of pigeon shit and pleading to an audience of zero to save some kittens.

But what do I know about art? I still watch Jeremy Kyle. At least the mouthbreathers on there are actually entertaining.

Image by garryknight courtesy of Flickr

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4 Responses

  1. Gemma Hughes

    I concur. It’s balls.

    Although must argue that a Monster Munch shortage plagueing my home town of Donny is a plight well worth advertising.

    I look forward to reading more of your work.

  2. Emma Mills

    I don’t think it’s balls. It might not be the most fascinating show to watch – an hour of someone waving at people they know does start to grate after about 15 minutes – but I don’t think that it’s supposed to be particularly riveting – it’s not theatre. It’s art. What is it about people having their 60 minutes on a plinth that seems to offend you so much? If this is supposed to be a reflection of society today then it seems you have nothing but contempt for all of them, which is pretty depressing.

  3. Jo Harris-Cooksley

    To be fair, if you’re given a whole hour to stand up and say or do whatever you want – you’ve got the attention of hundreds of people, an audience for whatever you want to say – why on earth do some people get up there and do nothing?

    Like come on, these are the same people who’ll have a good rant about TFL or their bike getting nicked in the pub with their mates, but then do naff all about it when they’re given a podium for their thoughts. It could be a lot more interesting than it is.

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