Can you sculpt the public into art? One and Other by Antony Gormley

March 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm (art, performance, sculpture) (, , , , )

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North

One and Other is the newest project from sculpter Antony Gormley (of Angel of the North fame). Instead of using steel or marble his new sculpture will be made out of people. Lots of people.

From July 2,400 individuals from around the UK will have the chance to stand on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square, and take part in living artwork. The plinth is usually reserved for kings, queens or generals. But this summer it will be home to various people for one hour each over a period of one hundred days. That’s 2,400 hours of standing in total.

The idea behind the project is the democratisation of art, a chance for normal people to look at the world from the “elevated frame” of a work of art itself. Gormley hopes it will produce a portrait of the UK: “Using this little plinth as the lens through which we see what the UK is like now.” The applicants will be screened to make sure all ethnic minorities are represented.

People can take anything they like up with them, as long as they can carry it without help. In an interview with in the Telegraph, Gormley said: “It will be an experiment. I imagine that there will be extroverts who will see this as an opportunity to do the biggest party trick ever. But I have no expectations. I would be absolutely happy if somebody got up there with an umbrella and just stood still for an hour.”

Gormley’s idea beat big competition from conetmporay artists Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor. It embraces many elements of contemporary society – reality televison, vodcasting, the idea of celebrity – all on one little plinth. It is making art interactive and accessible. Genius really.

“There is a danger in which this thing is seen as a spectacle in the manner of David Blaine, or I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, or Big Brother,” Gormley says. “I think it uses all of those idioms, but to a very different purpose. I’m interested in how people’s view of the world changes by being that exposed in such a public place.”

“This is also me testing myself, calling into question everything that I’ve done. Is this sculpture or isn’t it? Can you use time as a medium? Can you use real life as a subject?”

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