Antony Gormley - One and Other
For 100 days last year, 2400 chosen people plonked themselves atop the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square and had an hour to express pretty much anything they wished. So, we had one person delivering a list of apologies for all the wrongs they’d committed, a similarly long list of rants, a Nazi-clad wheelchair-user drawing attention to Hitler’s genocide against the disabled, a pensioner doing some patchwork, a cyclist highlighting the issue of those on two wheels who have been killed on London’s roads and a fair share of semi-nudity and dancing. From the serious (a statement from Death Row) to the silly (a guy talking like a pirate), each ‘performer’ captured the imagination of the watching public, whether in person or online.
For artist Antony Gormley, it seemed to be the culmination of a career in public and living art which has featured the ‘Angel of the North’, ‘Margate Exodus’ and his recent ‘6 Times’ project in Edinburgh. ‘One and Other’ even reached The Archers as a trio of Ambridge residents made unsuccessful applications for their 60 minutes of fame. But was it art? As psychoanalyst Darian Leader maintains in one of the book’s five commissioned essays, if you have to ask the question then chances are that, yes, it was art. Reading the transcripts of the plinthers and looking at a selection of screen grabs and official photographs, there’s a real ‘had to be there’ feeling about this. Chances are those that indeed were present would be the ones to get most of out this bound memorial to a very public work of art.