THE FOURTH PLINTH
The new commission for the Fourth Plinth, Powerless Structures, Fig. 101, by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, was unveiled February 23, 2012 in London’s Trafalgar Square. 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. Built in 1841, the Northwest Plinth was originally designed to host a bronze equestrian statue of King William IV by Sir Charles Barry, which was never installed. After more than 170 years, Elmgreen & Dragset have completed the process by presenting a new take on the tradition of equestrian statues, directly engaging with the history of the plinth itself.
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. The image of a young boy astride his rocking horse encourages viewers to consider the less spectacular events in their lives, which are often the most important. The sculpture invokes life’s everyday activities and questions the tradition of monuments predicated on military victory or defeat. In Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 there is not yet a history to commemorate – only a future to hope for. The boy’s features gently mimic the authoritarian pose often found in the tradition of equestrian statues, but his gestures represent pure excitement. There will be no tragic consequences resulting from his imaginary conquest.
The Nordic design duo of Michael Elmgreen and Ingmar Dragset have been collaborating on various art, architecture and design projects since 1995. In 2005 the partners made a profound impact with their fully merchandised Prada boutique that was constructed just off Route 90 in the depths of the Texan desert.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FOURTH PLINTH PROJECT, PLEASE CONSULT THE LONDON MAYOR’S WEBSITE