I wrote a bit about Antony Gormley’s Fourth Plinth project (One and Other) a while ago here and here. The empty plinth in Trafalgar Square London UK attracted a lot of criticism at the time. People who volunteered for this were chosen randomly and each allotted an hour to perform on the plinth (one very hour). This lasted from 6th July – 14th October 2009 and lasted 100 days. There were some stunning performances (and some best forgotten).
The plinth is now empty, but not for long, the work of UK artist Yinka Shonibare MBE whose work explores colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation will fill this space. Shonibare explores through the media of sculpture, film, painting and performance and installation. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004. One of the main components of his work is his use of brightly coloured African fabrics which he buys from London markets.
Among his pieces, Shonibare has also taken famous paintings and given them his own expression. Mr and Mrs Andrews without their heads (Gainsborough) is one example. He has also recreated these paintings in carefully posed videos. His work is multi layered and deserves a place of his own (which I will go into later)
The Fourth Plinths latest tenant shall be ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ by Shonibare. This is an exact replica of Nelson’s famous Flagship in The Battle of Trafalgar HMS Victory with African looking fabric sails which are actually Dutch wax fabrics: these are significant to the artist’s work:-
“The Dutch wax fabrics were originally Indonesian-influenced fabrics, known as batik. The Dutch tried the Indonesian market with industrially produced versions and then subsequently [when this failed to work] they turned to West Africa, where they’re now known as African textiles,” Shonibare explains. “It’s an apt metaphor for understanding that behind a fixed idea or stereotype there are other complex layers……” (rest of the interview here)
Shonibare hopes that people will want to engage with his art and debate about it. I wish that I could have actuallyseen this piece but we were too early – it goes up tomorrow. Perhaps later in the year we shall have another trip to London. I shall definitely be taking photo’s of this if we do!