ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Elmgreen & Dragset win 2012 commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.

.

Elmgreen & Dragset Powerless Structures Fig 101.

Five days ago, January 14th, the Berlin-based collaborative, Elmgreen & Dragset were announced by The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson as the winning artists of the next 2012 commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. In response, Miami based artist David Rohn offers his immediate reactions:
.
“I guess my take on this Trafalgar Sq piece is its apparent elitism. It may fit in snugly with British art, but seems more to refer back to Thackeray (Vanity Fair etc, celebrant of the silliness of the deeply money-based 19th century upper classes) than to (and in my view at the expense of), Dickens, the proto-Marxist writer who chronicled the rough and ready lower classes of the day.
.
We’re in a depression and the elites of Britain choose a gilded image of an upper class boy playing at the classic image of the born-to-rule boy astride a rocking horse to be placed on a monumental plinth in a plaza built to celebrate the naval victory of Lord Trafalgar over Napoleon. Or are we poking fun at the toys of the rich and ruling classes: and another contemporary artist sells the rich art that mocks them while he laughs his way to the bank? Maybe, but once it goes up onto that plinth it becomes a symbol of what we place on high, not what we’re making fun of. And the rich are of course paying for it… so be careful.
.
There seems a clear reference to the Biblical golden calf worshiped by the Israelites when they abandoned their God. Will this wind up like all those innocuous rabbit sculptures all the corporations stuck in front of their headquarter buildings back in the ’80′s? Or a century from now will it fit alongside those haughty 18th century upper class portraits that seem, nowadays more than ever, to symbolize what had to go, to be undone, back in the day?
.
And interestingly, the portraits of Renaissance potentates, which I mention because so many defenders of the investment-based art system we have claim we’ve recreated that era, seem more engaged, less self-serving, and less about social class, than the vapid and arrogant ones that preceded the upsets that followed.
.
There are a lot of indicators that we’re in a time of transition, maybe transformation. If it is a time where what doesn’t change will fade away, I wonder whether art as investment will endure, or whether another approach will emerge[.]
.
For an interview with Elmgreen & Dragset as runners up for the Fourth Plinth exhibition space, including details of the other entrants, please go here.
.
This post was contributed by David Rohn.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Elmgreen & Dragset win 2012 commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.