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From plinth to People’s Republic: Antony Gormley invades China

October 24, 2009

Having turned Britons into living statues, the sculptor has now filled a Beijing gallery with an army of human forms. He shows Jonathan Watts around – and explains why he has designs on the 2012 London Olympics

Antony Gormley stands in front of his sculpture, Another Singularity, in Beijing

A silvery spider’s web … Antony Gormley stands in front of his sculpture, Another Singularity, in Beijing. Photograph: Oak Taylor-Smith

Antony Gormley is rather pleased at the outcome of One and Other, the 100-day celebration of British democracy, eccentricity and ordinariness that recently finished on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth. So pleased, in fact, that he can’t resist the suggestion that it could be transplanted elsewhere.

“I think they should do it on Tiananmen Square,” he says with a mischievous smile. “It would be very good to do it in Moscow, too. You could remove Mayakovsky and use that plinth. Or you could remove Karl Marx.”

It is a joke, of course, but it’s somewhat close to the bone. We are talking in Beijing, where the government recently staged a Tiananmen Square celebration to mark 60 years of the People’s Republic with a huge parade of goose-stepping soldiers and nuclear weapons. It’s hard to imagine a starker contrast between the nudists, lap dancers and charity campaigners who appeared on the London plinth with the event staged by the Chinese authorities, which the government decreed should only be watched on TV, with phalanxes of soldiers reduced to well-choreographed pixels.

“As a sculptor, it is the thing that I am working against,” he says. “It’s the state deciding that it wants to virtualise the physical nature of its power. Now that China owns the world, maybe this is the new order. There is something deeply worrying about the pixel in the hand of the propagandist.”

Read more at The Guardian:

From plinth to People’s Republic

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