dont be seduced by s[edition]

23 February 2012 § Leave a comment

With todays unveiling of the Elmgreen & Dragset sculpture for the fourth plinth – Powerless Structures; fig 101 – the online digital ‘art’ collecting company s[edition] is offering 5000 free ‘editions’ of the sculpture.

For those of you who haven’t heard s[edition] “is a revolutionary new way to collect art by the world’s leading contemporary artists in digital format. Experience a whole new world of art and collecting.”   Supposedly this is the way that you can suddenly ‘own’ you own masterworks of contemporary art. They boast that works “that can normally command astronomical prices can be had here [sic] for as little as 4 Euros.”  They do not mention that it is up to 500 euros – -hardly good value in my book. And who are these artists that have licenced their work? Surprise, surprise – Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Matt Collishaw for starters, you can guess many of the rest.

Hmm – 4 Euros – spotted the catch yet? Uniquely it can only be used on digital devices accessible from your online vault. Infact all you are doing is paying to use an image. Forgive me for being cynical but wouldn’t most people just find an image somewhere on the web and use it as a screensaver? OK, officially you have to have permission to use some images but still many people will not be too concerned about using any image they find on the web for personal use (and there are plenty of royalty free images around too).

S[edition] cleverly throw around words like ‘own’, ‘collection’, ‘certificate of authenticity’. Art collecting is “instant, affordable, social and enjoyable“. And what happens if you want to sell some of these valuable ‘editions’ that you ‘own’ in your ‘art collection’. You can forget it for now – you cannot sell (or give) them to anyone else. They promise an online marketplace in the future, but don’t expect a queue of takers for those Hirst spots that you thought might look nice on the ipad.

Don’t get seduced in to thinking you are ‘owning’ contemporary art and this is somehow an art ‘collection’. This is throwaway temporary decoration. When I was younger we used to have access to instant, affordable, good value artworks – they were called Athena posters. They are of course now all valueless and discarded. If you want ‘arty’ screen-savers do yourself a favour and save some money – just browse the web!

elmgreen & dragset unveiled on 4th plinth trafalgar square

22 February 2012 § 1 Comment

At long last the Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 by Elmgreen & Dragset – otherwise to be known as (probably!) the golden rocking horse – will be unveiled by Joanna Lumley in London’s Trafalgar Square tomorrow –  Thursday 23 February 2012. The recently commissioned competition-winning sculpture (see previous blogs linked below) is to occupy the notorious and long empty 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square.  It was a fitting winner and my runaway favourite – I cannot wait to see it in place.

Here is what the artists say: “In this portrayal of a boy astride his rocking horse, a child has been elevated to the status of a historical hero, though there is not yet a history to commemorate. As in a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, this enfant terrible’ gently mocks the authoritarian pose often found in the tradition of equestrian sculptures. His wild gesture, mimicking the adult cavalier, is one of pure excitement — there will be no tragic consequences resulting from his imaginary conquest.”

Everyone is welcome to celebrate the unveiling by Miss Lumley between 9 and 10am. I am not entirely sure what she knows about art or sculpture, but hey, who cares? – she is after all a rather theatrical fantasy figure like the statute – and ex-Bond girls are in any case allowed to do what they like!

My previous blogs on the subject:

Elmgreen & Dragset win battle of Trafalgar

The Battle of Trafalgar – the Fourth Plinth

elmgreen & dragset win battle of trafalgar

24 January 2011 § 1 Comment

OK, I am feeling very smug. I correctly predicted in a previous blog  E&D as the clear winners of the competition to fill the vacant Trafalgar Square fourth plinth. Admittedly it was not a particuarly difficult task given the quality of the opposition but thank goodness the judging comittee ‘got it right’ – well, in my view at least!

Adrian Searle in The Guardian was one in particular who also perceived it as a clear winner – their ‘golden boy on a rocking horse is by far the best. Like Fritsch’s cockerel, but unlike Locke’s work, it avoids being kitsch. The simplified detail and expression feel just right. Leaning back and with one arm raised aloft, he’s more than a toy boy. This is the child as hero of the battles of his imagination.’

The excellent Victoria Miro gallery represents E&D in the UK and were of course quick to congratulate them. This is what they say about the work:

‘In this portrayal of a boy astride his rocking horse, a child has been elevated to the status of a historical hero, though there is not yet a history to commemorate – only a future to hope for. Elmgreen & Dragset’s work proposes a paraphrase of a traditional war monument beyond a dualistic worldview predicated on either victory or defeat. Instead of acknowledging the heroism of the powerful, Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 celebrates the heroism of growing up.’

The plinth commission is typical of their work which reconfgures the familar with great invention and humour. They recently created ‘The Collectors’  for the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (right) – a recreated ‘home’ deserted save for a body floating in a pool. Other works have included siting a Prada boutique in the centre of the Texan desert, creating a pool diving board from the window of a Californian home and transforming a venue in to a subway station.

Always redefining and confounding expectations can I suggest to Boris that they ask E&D to move underground from the Trafalgar Square plinth and turn the Tube in to an efficiently working service? Perhaps too much to ask – even for them!

I should note that in addition Katharina Fritsch’s giant blue cockerel is a second ‘winner’ which will be displayed in 2014 following E&D’s work.

Related Articles

the battle of trafalgar – the fourth plinth

20 August 2010 § 1 Comment

If you like this post please make a comment or like it. If you enjoy the blog please subscribe for regular updates (right).Thanks akuta

Let battle commence! The finalists have been announced in the competition to find a replacement for Yinka Shonibare’s Ship in a Bottle. This in turn had followed Anthony Gormley’s One & Other, which allowed 2,400 members of the public their 15 minutes, or rather 60 minutes of fame atop the empty plinth. In my view the plinth has actually beome as important and certainly as talked-about as the work to be allowed to sit upon it – the thing itself surely is now worthy of elevation to iconic status. Why not just create a copy, gild it, and plonk it up on high? All hail the plinth. Problem solved! Sadly nobody asked for my view, so here are the competing sculptures arranged in my preferred order. The selection is actually is quite interesting,varied and is hard to criticise – too much – and I look forward to hearing the panel’s choice. The list is in reverse order (the artists own words in italics, my comments following) to allow the excitement to build to a crescendo!

6 Katharina Fritsch. Hahn/Cock.  “The sculpture, a larger-than-life cockerel in ultramarine blue, communicates on different levels. The mostly grey architecture of Trafalgar Square would receive an unexpectedly strong colour accentuation, the size and colour of the animal making the whole situation surreal or simply unusual. The cockerel is also a symbol for regeneration, awakening and strength and at the same time plays with an animal motif that was popular in classic modernism. Finally, the theme refers, in an ironic way to male-defined British society.” But are we not long over the male-dominated society hang-up by now? A big blue cock? Oo-er missus. Regeneration and strength surely not – it is just a big chicken. It is all just a bit silly – was she influenced by Wallinger’s Horse?

5 Brian Griffiths Battenburg. “The pink and yellow cake is a humble commemoration of the Victorian era and a link with a British past that has slowly crumbled. Increased to gigantic proportions, fashioned from a selection of traditionally made household bricks and placed on a plinth alongside other Victorian statues in Trafalgar Square, the cake becomes a wry monument to monumentality. The sculpture transforms the Battenberg as a symbol of teatimes past into a contemporary comment on commodity, commemoration and collective identity.” Cake as cultural icon. Witty, with the bricks referring nicely to the Victorian housing of London. But in the end looks like, well, a pile of bricks.

4 Hew Locke Sickandar. “The plinth was designed to receive an equestrian bronze: 170 years later Sikandar fulfils that original ambition. The artwork replicates the statue of Field Marshal Sir George White (1835-1912) in Portland Place and transforms it into a fetish object. The sculpture will be embellished with horse-brasses, charms, medals, sabres, ex-votos, jewels, Bactrian treasure and Hellenistic masks. It is not an anti-military critique. It is an investigation into the idea of the hero and the problematic and changing nature of heroism.” Fun and interesting, but down the list because it is totally impractical. Weather and pigeons will turn this into a plastic-bag regaled, dirty, messy lump, dripping with pigeon sh*t.

3 Allora & Caldazilla Untitled (ATM/Organ).“Untitled (ATM/Organ) consists of installing an automated teller machine in the fourth plinth, connected to a functioning pipe organ which will produce sound by driving pressurised air through pipes selected via the ATM machine keyboard. This project addresses a range of themes and subjects such as personal banking, global financial systems, commerce, the sacred and the profane, music-making and personal and public space in a humorous manner.” Fun at first it will become very, very annoying – and 100% sure to break down.

2 Mariele Neudecker It’s never too late and you cant go back.“It’s Never Too Late And You Can’t Go Back is elevated above the plinth and represents a fictional mountainscape. If viewed from above it reveals the flipped and reversed shape of Britain. From below, the map is the right way around and more familiar. Its location and fabric link with features of Trafalgar Square as well as to classical sculptures and sublime landscape paintings in the National Gallery. It provokes thoughts about a monumental past and future of both landscape and city.”  An interesting monument to Britain but I wonder about the practicalities. Will we see it properly or will the plinth get in the way?

1 Elmgreen & Dragset Powerless Structures Fig 101. “In this portrayal of a boy astride his rocking horse, a child has been elevated to the status of a historical hero, though there is not yet a history to commemorate. As in a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, this enfant terrible’ gently mocks the authoritarian pose often found in the tradition of equestrian sculptures. His wild gesture, mimicking the adult cavalier, is one of pure excitement — there will be no tragic consequences resulting from his imaginary conquest.” A runaway winner. Mocks the daftly heroic statues of old with style and a sense of optimism and fun.

And the winner is……..  (to be continued)

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