The Fourth Plinth and the "democratization of art"

A participant in Antony Gormley's installation at Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth project, by photojournalist David Thompson.

Since Monday, artist Antony Gormley has been asking Britons to use Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth to make "a portrait of the UK now." For the next 100 days, he's opened up the remaining empty plinth -- built in 1841 to support an equestrian statue of William IV, but never completed due to lack of funds -- in central London to anyone for an hour, to do whatever they'd like. (Currently, I'm watching a guy muttering and doing what appears to be Tai Chi, but there have been many more artful hours spent.)

In a nice video (below), Gormley says the ensuing 2,400 hours -- until October 14 -- are "about the democratization of art":
"We know what Trafalgar Square is like: It's full of generals and kings and queens and [Admiral Horatio] Nelson and [Sir Charles James] Napier. This is a chance for you and I, people who live on the ground, to have a look at the world from the point of view of art, from the point of view of that elevated frame that, in a way, we've inherited from the old order. I hope this is about making a new order. Or anyway, expressing our hopes and fears now..."
Best part: it's all being webcast live.

Next up: After Gormley's project, the plinth will feature a commission by British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, who'll make a scale replica of Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory, in a giant glass bottle.

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