The Occupy Everything movement is at it again. This time taking a jab at one of the biggest names in the British art scene. Last Friday the movement focused on Anish Kapoor who is known around the world for his monumental works, both public and private. He has exhibited in several major galleries around the world as well as high profilel shows at the Royal Academy (2009) and a major installation at the Serpentine and Royal Park in 2010/11. It was not these shows that garnered the attention of the Occupy movement, but Kapoor’s involvement with the Olympics, which are only a matter of weeks away. Kapoor has already found himself in the hot seat for his ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower, a feature of the Summer 2012 Olympics, but the Occupy movement’s most recent stunt lends itself to good publicity for the artist rather than a successful mark of progress for the anti-capitalist group.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower by Kapoor is a controversial piece of work chosen to represent the 2012 Olympics, and more generally Britain. In a sense, it is perfectly aligned in it’s “blood red” and “tangled metal” mess of non-representation to accompany Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony plans which apparently aim to portray a Britain full of sheep, thatched houses, and music festivals (Glastonbury 2012 Danny Boyle-style?).
The Occupy movement had other qualms with the artist and moved into his vacant central London home for a brief protest that barely lasted 24 hours. Within that period the group managed to make it’s presence known to Kapoor via social media, the chosen platform for all modern political fervor. The group, a branch of the Occupy movement known as Bread and Circuses tweeted “Anish Kapoor: We know where you don’t live”. The point the group was trying so elaborately to develop surrounds the pricing to enter the vertigo inducing ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower designed by Kapoor. To scale the enormous tower standing at 377 feet tall, the public is asked to pay £15 a figure even Kapoor is not comfortable with.He stated; “It’s a hell of a lot of money”.
Visitors to the Olympic park and festivities surrounding the games may be serenely lulled into expectations that the views from the top of Kapoor’s tower will produce Boyle’s nightmarish vision of sheep fields and cricket pitch bliss, instead they will be met with the actual sprawl of East London in all of it’s glorious industrial depravity that has only recently been glossed over in haste for tourists and visiting diplomats.
The Bread and Circuses Occupy branch also had another bone to pick with Kapoor and the general Olympic organizations. The movement believes that the Olympics, and by connection Kapoor are deliberately drawing attention towards the Olympic games to avoid addressing issues such as the rapidly deepening Euro crisis, austerity measures sweeping the European countries at an alarming rate, and most importantly the commodification of art. While these are all valid concerns that the Occupy movement is discussing, making house in Kapoor’s residence does not successfully address any of these topics head on. The anonymous blogger on hand at the dwelling even mentioned that “the event was certainly less noisy than the nightclub near by”. That comment alone speaks volumes about the current position of the occupy movement most significantly in London and more generally around the world. The media has lost interest in their agenda as other headlines take the spotlight and the political drive amongst individuals has nearly vanished, if it ever existed.
The Occupy movement is not dissimilar to any of the other motions that the group has made in the past. Looking beyond the fact that this particular one involved a major name in the art world, the movement is less than invigorating. With their forceable removal from St. Paul’s, the group has disintegrated into the background and internal strife has left the protesters bickering amongst themselves. If nothing more this event drew the public eye yet again to Kapoor’s work both past and present which the group, by admission, was presumably attempting to avoid. It did however highlight some of the monetary gains to be made from Kapoor’s work during a time of financial instability that should be applauded faintly. The Bread and Circuses group stated, last Friday, that it had “liberated” the unrenovated five-storey house, located in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, one of London’s best known garden squares and formally the scene of a rough sleepers protest in the 1980s to highlight kapoor’s involvement with the overpriced ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower.
Words by: Portia Pettersen Copyright 2012
Image: © ArtLyst 2010