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The ongoing Antony Gormley “Saga.” The fourth plinth: it was just Big Brother all over again

October 10, 2009

We saw sea monsters, Nazis, football referees and – inevitably – plenty of nudity. But was Antony Gormley’s One and Other actually any good?

Gallery: The best of the plinth

Anthony Gormley's Fourth Plinth

‘It is not a stage. It is a hermit’s platform’ … One and Other in Trafalgar Square. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

Asking a critic what they think of Antony Gormley‘s installation on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square is as pointless as asking someone what they think of Mount Fuji, or, for that matter, Nelson’s Column. These things don’t really depend on what any one individual thinks of them: they are here to stay. So is Gormley’s One & Other, even though it is coming to the end of its 100 days and nights. It has found a place in British culture, and will not be forgotten. How long before a lavishly illustrated book is published, with photographs of every one of the 2,400 participants and meditative essays by Andrew Marr and Simon Schama? How long before before the memoirs are in the shops (I Was a Plinth Person; One Hour that Shook the World), and the films of the memoirs?

Gormley’s idea of getting people to stand for an hour each on the plinth, in a continuous 24-hour cycle, was selected after models of the four proposals were displayed in the nearby National Gallery. So it was popular before it began, and that popularity has not diminished. It has been widely celebrated as a democratic portrait of Britain in the 21st century. Like a previous attention-grabber on the fourth plinth, a marble statue of Alison Lapper commissioned from Tuscan craftsmen by Marc Quinn, it is a heroic work, one that appeals to that most basic expectation of public art – that it should celebrate courageous people. But in this case, the people are celebrated for being ordinary, not extraordinary. It is the heroism of everyday life that is on display, and the daring to stand up and be counted, at least for an hour.

Read more at The Guardian: The fourth plinth: it was just Big Brother all over again

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