One & Other

I know what I like.

It’s a phrase I use quite often when discussing art, mainly because it’s not an area I’m all that familiar with having never really studied it other than the odd wander round a gallery or two.

I’m quite open to most forms of art, and I’ll happily wander round an installation and see if it has any impact on me and, digging into my opening phrase a little, if something manages to illicit an emotion from me then it falls into my definition of ‘art’.

I don’t limit that statement to a specific set of emotions, there is much beauty to be found in disgust, as there is horror in the mundane. But sometimes I find myself baffled and, worse, disinterested. At that point I’ll happily concede that I do not appreciate whatever it is that is being offered to me, whilst retaining the right to change my mind in the future (such are the vagaries of something based on emotion).

So I currently find myself at odds with… er.. myself, with regards to the current art installation One & Other:

This summer, sculptor Antony Gormley invites you to help create an astonishing living monument. He is asking the people of the UK to occupy the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, a space normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals. They will become an image of themselves, and a representation of the whole of humanity.

To which my instant reaction is “poppycock”.

Placing random individuals on a televised stage isn’t art, surely? And, with the greatest of respect to the “plinthers”, the little I’ve seen doesn’t suggest it is more than some art students and random oddballs doing, well either little of interest, or lots of things that aren’t interesting.

And so the voyeurs are lapping it up, having gotten bored of Big Brother, the tourists and crowds in Trafalgar Square are drawn to the cameras with hopes of their 15 minutes of fame. My disinterest kicked in big time.

Until the other day when, channel hopping, I caught some coverage of a young man who was filling in for an someone else. He didn’t have anything planned, he was bemused and awkward and the loneliness of the plinth became evident.

My interest slowly woke up and I started to think about this piece of art.

I’m still thinking to be honest. There is something that galls me about it, the exploitation of those who stand atop the plinth, reduce to a number for the most part, and the voyeuristic nature of the entire thing.

But it has me thinking, considering why I am reacting to it the way I am and if that isn’t what art is all about, then what is?

I know what I like. Even though it can take me some time to make up my mind about what that means.


  1. Vicky said:

    Hi Gordon,

    The great thing about ‘art’ (on canvas, in a glass box, on a stage, on a person, spontaneously appearing on the street etc.) is whatever you can take from it. Like music, you either find something in it that you like, or connect with…or you don’t. There’s no right or wrong, or good or bad – it’s entirely subjective. So don’t fret about it too much.

    (I think the plinth stuff is nonsense, but only because I cringe at ‘performing’ and don’t need that kind of attention. Other people obviously relish it, and that’s good too – for them, I mean!)

    Hope you are well!

    August 19, 2009
  2. Clair said:

    I saw a guy pogo-ing on the plinth the other day. He’s a braver man than I am!

    August 21, 2009

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