Culture Monster’s Christopher Knight takes a little jab at Antony Gormley’s One & the Other but follows his observation that the project is really just another riff on Warhol’s 15-minutes-of-fame dictum with a more important point. Yes, on the Plinth the ordinary Britons are out-matched by the size and scale of the heroic statuary and the grandiose square.
And it’s not especially pretty. I can’t say what it’s like in person, but whenever I tune into the live streaming broadcast of the piece, I can’t help but notice just how, well, how puny Mr. and Ms. Great Britain look up there on that gigantic hunk of stone-block. It’s a scale problem. The plinth was designed for a monumental sculpture, many times larger than life, in a grand public space. A poor bag of ordinary flesh-and-bones just can’t measure up.
Of course, that’s a little bit of the point which Knight may not be willing to countenance. But he is spot on when he identifies the 21st Century leverage of the internet:
What provides the grand scale that mere physicality can’t match, of course, is the insatiable infotainment media, whether corporate or individual. Modern media is plenty big enough to match Trafalgar’s outsize pomp and circumstance — and for this project, it has.
Warhol understood that too, which is why the endless repetitions of serial imagery — 100 Coca-Cola bottles or Marilyn Monroe’s lips endlessly repeated — are a hallmark of his work. I think of Andy as the “One” in Gormley’s “One & Other” and of the streaming online video, cellphone snaps, digital camera pictures, global press accounts, Flickr sets and all the rest as the “Other.” What’s virtually up there on the plinth is more important than who is actually up there, which pretty much undercuts any democratizing impulse for art.
Antony Gormley’s One & Other Recycles Warhol (Culture Monster)