Antony Gormley is the latest artist to be commissioned to fill the empty fourth plinth at London’s Trafalgar Square. The One & Other project spans over 100 days for 24 hours a day from 6th July to 14th October, seeing one member of the public spend one hour on the plinth, doing whatever they please.
In the past figures of David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson have made appearances on the fourth plinth, alongside sculptural pieces by the likes of Marc Quinn, Bill Woodrow and Mark Wallinger. However, it is clear that this particular project has either fascinated or infuriated its audience, with critics accusing Gormley's work as lazy, and an unnecessary risk encouraging exhibitionism among the public. It raises the old question to the subjective debate ‘what is art?’ What are the necessary conditions for being art? When Nicolas Penny, director of the National Gallery in London, was asked for his opinion on One & Other he replied “As a historian of sculpture it seems to me to have more to do with theatre than sculpture. Therefore, I leave it to theatre critics to decide. I have seen only one or two of the performances. Or non-performances.”
On the other hand, it cannot be denied that Gormley has produced an interesting twist on the tradition of living art. A quick visit to the One & Other website and you will see a live screening of the person currently positioned on the plinth, carrying out whatever is it they are doing, in what feels like a very Big Brother-esque scenario. For me, it is through the combination of the concept of living sculpture and these new digital ideas, such as reality tv, where the attraction and curiosity lies.Gormley claims that the idea behind his demogratic artwork is to create a composite picture of Britain, by setting the conditions with the rest passed on to the participants. Who knows what is to come but so far people have used the hour to perform art, music, raise charity profiles or simply just be. The project certainly isn’t without risk, however so far, albeit a few protestors, his gamble has been successful. To view participants live go to www.oneandother.co.uk.