Ab Fab Star Joanna Lumley Unveils Fourth Plinth Statue
ELMGREEN & DRAGSET’S boy on rockinghorse to be revealed Thursday
Celebrated British actress and 'National Treasure', Joanna Lumley will unveil the new Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square by Elmgreen & Dragset, on Thursday 23 February at 9.30am. Commissioned by the Mayor of London and supported by Arts Council England, AlixPartners and Louis Vuitton, the 4.1m high golden bronze sculpture portrays a boy astride his rocking horse.
The child is elevated to the status of a historical hero in line with the existing iconography of the other statues in the square. Instead of acknowledging the heroism of the powerful, however, the work celebrates the heroism of growing up. In Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 there is not yet a history to commemorate – only a future to hope for.
Joanna Lumley and Elmgreen & Dragset first met in 2008 when collaborating on Drama Queens, a theatre production conceived by the artist duo. Lumley provided the voice for one of six famous sculptures who acted as protagonists in the production, performing to a seated audience. The format of the play reversed the typical roles of how the audience engages with art in galleries, as well as traditional concepts of theatre.
Elmgreen & Dragset said, “Joanna Lumley is such a fantastic and charismatic person that we couldn't have a better ambassador at the unveiling.”
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, based in Berlin and London, have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. They have held numerous solo exhibitions in art institutions worldwide, including Serpentine Gallery and Tate Modern in London, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, ZKM Museum of Modern Art in Karlsruhe, The Power Plant in Toronto, MUSAC in Léon, and Kunsthalle Zürich. Their work has been included in the Berlin, Sao Paulo, Gwangju, Moscow, Singapore and Istanbul biennials, and in 2009 they received a special mention for their exhibition “The Collectors” in The Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Amongst their most well known works are “Prada Marfa” – a full scale replica of a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert, and “Short Cut” – a car and a caravan breaking through the ground which was first shown in Milan and now resides in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. A major exhibition is planned at the Victoria and Albert Museum for Autumn 2013.
The Fourth Plinth Programme
The Fourth Plinth Programme is the most provocative contemporary art prize in the UK. Funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England the programme invites world class artists to make astonishing new works for the centre of the Capital City. The programme was initiated in 1998 by the RSA with the support of the Cass Sculpture Foundation. In 1999 responsibility for Trafalgar Square was transferred to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: "The year that we host the greatest show on earth is an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate London's status as a globally renowned cultural capital. Elmgreen & Dragset have created a gleaming sculpture for the Fourth Plinth, which will be a high profile attraction during a summer like no other - with its nod to equestrianism I hope it augers well for medal glory at the 2012 Games!"
Led by the Mayor’s Culture Team, the project, under the guidance of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group (FPCG). The FPCG recommends contemporary works for the Fourth Plinth. The first commission under the FPCG was Marc Quinn's sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant, unveiled in a public ceremony in September 2005. It was followed by Thomas Schütte’s Model for a Hotel in 2007 and by Antony Gormley’s One & Other in 2009. Yinka Shonibare MBE’s sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle remained on the plinth until the end of January 2012. In November 2011 The Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum launched a public appeal to give the commission a permanent home at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Katharina Fritsch’s commission Hahn / Cock, will follow that by Elmgreen & Dragset and will be unveiled in 2013. Previous commissions have been Ecce Homo by Mark Wallinger (1999), Regardless of History by Bill Woodrow (2000) and Monument by Rachel Whiteread (2001). Arts Council England has been a funding partner supporting the programme since 2003.
The child is elevated to the status of a historical hero in line with the iconography of the other statues in the square. Instead of acknowledging the heroism of the powerful, however, the work celebrates the heroism of growing up and questions the tradition of monuments predicated on military victory or defeat. There is not yet a history to commemorate here – only a future to hope for. The artists Elmgreen & Dragset said: “We always considered the small everyday battles in each person’s life just as important for the understanding of our culture as any big sensational headlines.”
The Fourth Plinth Programme is funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England and sees new artworks being selected for the vacant plinth in a rolling programme of new commissions. A key element of the Fourth Plinth Programme is to involve the public in debate about contemporary art in our public spaces. 17,000 people commented on the shortlisted proposals on cards at the proposals exhibition.