The fourth plinth: wtf?

Art, Public spaces, Sculpture

The latest incarnation of the fourth plinth Photo: Streatham Mike on Flickr

What the fuck is this?

It’s the latest installment of art on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, that’s what.

Is it even art? It’s suspiciously jovial. I have a suspicion that it might be a leftover from Hamley’s Christmas display. Spirit of the recession and that.

But no, the press release assures me that it goes by the name of ‘Powerless Structures, Fig.101’, for some reason, and was created by Swedish duo Elmgreen and Dragset. We’re stuck with it until next year when it will be replaced by a giant blue chicken by Katharina Fritsch. Now I’m not one for Imperialism, but wouldn’t it make sense to have something British up there in the Olympic year?

Ah, I forget. It was commissioned by Boris Johnson.

(Well, he sort of commissioned some other people to commission it, but I’m sure it’s still his fault.)

Apparently he is “always excited to see what the latest offering will be” and thinks it is “simply magnificent”. Quel surprise. He reckons it’s a “gleaming talisman to watch over our city during this fantastic Olympic year” and  “will bring us luck in the medal tables this summer!” I wasn’t aware that crappy statues were some kind of mystical amulet now. I really need to keep up.

It just makes no sense on any conceivable level. Is it some kind of joke on the fact that the statue which was supposed to be put there 170 years ago (but never was) was one of William IV on a horse by Sir Charles Barry? If so, I’m pretty sure the art world is capable of coming up with funnier jokes than this.

My main objection is that it looks so bizarrely Christmassy….surely rocking horses don’t actually exist any more apart from in twee illustrations to The Night Before Christmas and on naff festive cards?

I liked everything that has ever been on the plinth since 1999 better than this. Even the stuff that was controversial for controversy’s sake, but perhaps that’s just because I’m a contentious arsehole.  Although, Joanna Lumley called it a “completely unthreatening and adorable creature”. D’aww. Perhaps I should stop being so cynical and embrace the sheer cuddliness of it all.

Seriously though, just give me the blue chicken.

Better things they could do with the fourth plinth than have this statue on it:

1. Put a giant scarecrow on it to scare away all the  hideous pigeons

2. Let the bloke in Piccadilly Circus with the megaphone who tells everyone they’re going to hell use it as a platform for his prophesising. He’d get to feel important, whilst at the same time no one would be able to hear him.

3. Make bankers and politicians take turns to stand there and be pelted with food items in various states of  decay. I’m pretty certain the moment we stopped using the pillory was the moment all of this country’s problems started.

4. Build a house on it. The London housing list is gigantic, and who wouldn’t want Nelson as a neighbour?

5. Overcome this obsessive compulsive plinth-topping complex and leave it the fuck alone.


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