At 9 a.m. on Wednesday 14th October 2009, the last participant of British artist Antony Gormley’s One & Other project, Emma Burns, stepped onto the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. The 30 year old medical photographer from Darlington is one of 2,400 people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures and from all over the UK which have participated in this unique piece of art. They have travelled from as far afield as Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands to Belfast, Northern Ireland to be part of this collective portrait of the UK of 2009. Antony Gormley’s One & Other has seen a different person take their place on the Fourth Plinth every hour, 24 hours a day for 100 days. The project has been commissioned by the Mayor of London and produced by Artichoke in partnership with Sky Arts, and supported by Arts Council England.
The participants used her hour on the plinth in most different ways: There were activists, raising awareness for causes such as animal welfare, the environment, and human rights; creatives from painters to dancers who brought their art to the plinth; people who promoted themselves or their companies; and participants who simply did nothing. A full list of plinthers profiles can be found at www.oneandother.co.uk.
Altogether 2,400 participants were chosen at random by computer algorithm from nearly 35,000 applications received via the website www.oneandother.co.uk and through post. There was no audition process. The only four criteria – participants must be aged 16 or over and must live, or be staying in, the UK, an equal number of men and women were chosen, and the population of the UK was represented proportionally by choosing a certain number of people from each region.
Antony Gormley said: “Art should be for everyone, this was an experiment to see whether everyone could be involved in making it. Who can be represented in art? How can we make it? How can we experience it? These are questions that have exercised me for years. I am inspired and given hope by what we have done this last three months. Whatever goes on the plinth hereafter the square will never be the same; the memory of this summer’s living sculpture in all its diversity is indelible.”
Antony Gormley was born in London in 1950. He has participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale and the Kassel Documenta 8. Angel of the North and Quantum Cloud on the Thames in Greenwich are amongst the most known examples of contemporary British sculpture.
The Fourth Plinth project is funded by the Mayor of London and Arts Council England, London. It involves a rolling program of contemporary art commissions to be installed temporarily on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square. Previous projects have been realized by Marc Quinn, Thomas Schütte, Mark Wallinger, Bill Woodrow, Rachel Whiteread. The next work to be installed as part of the Fourth Plinth commissioning process will be a scale replica of Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory, in a giant glass bottle, by Yinka Shonibare.
Antony Gormley: One & Other / Finale with Emma Burns. Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London / UK, October 14, 2009.
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