Tell Me If I'm Wrong? Is The Tavistok Institute Having Another Psy Op On Us?
This peice of art has been dumped smack bang amongst the male members of the species in Trafalga Square. Psy Op anyone?
Quinn prepares to unveil Trafalgar Square sculpture
Charlotte Higgins in Pietrasanta, Tuscany
Tuesday September 13, 2005
The first thing you notice about Marc Quinn's sculpture, Alison Lapper Pregnant, is its immense scale. This is 11.5 tonnes of bright-white marble hewn from the Tuscan mountains; it took four Italian craftsmen 10 months to carve its shape. Quinn, the Britartist most famous for casting his head in nine pints of his own blood and then freezing it, is dwarfed by his creation. At 3.5m (11ft 6in) tall, the sculpture is more than three times bigger than the real Alison Lapper. Then there is the subject. Emperors, dictators, popes and potentates - these are the usual sitters for such gargantuan tributes. Not a woman. Let alone a pregnant disabled woman.
This exclusive Guardian preview of the statue, which is destined for Trafalgar Square in London, marked the first time Quinn saw it finished. It was also the last - until it is carefully unwrapped from the packaging protecting it on its journey from Italy and unveiled to the public on Thursday. "I love the idea of someone digging it up in 5,000 years' time and wondering who it was," Quinn told the Guardian.
The colossal carving has been painstakingly made by artisans working under Quinn's direction in a sculpture workshop in Pietrasanta, near Pisa. It is a scaled-up version of a life cast made by the sculptor. Creating it has taken a gruelling 10 months; two alone were devoted to finding the right chunk of marble from the nearby quarries. Next, craftsmen from the marble workshop of Franco Cervietti worked on it; his brother Moreno hewed out its basic shape; Giuseppe Raffaeta gave it precise form; Italo Lenzoni then worked in the the finest detailing. When not realising this sculpture, these artisans might be working on anything from statues of world leaders to decorative reliefs for a Russian oligarch's Moscow palace.
This sculptors' yard is also like a chaotic museum where angels, saints, popes and gods jostle for space. Saddam Hussein sits next to George Bush Sr.
The final month of work has seen Quinn's sculpture carefully polished with sandpaper and pumice, giving it a blinding white sheen from which sheets of light seem to bounce. In this workshop they have made bigger sculptures, among them six 5m-tall copies of Michelangelo's David taken from a cast of the original. But never, even though they have collaborated with artists such as Jeff Koons and Niki de Saint Phalle, have they worked on a more controversial piece. Even before it is unveiled, Alison Lapper Pregnant has been written off by some as too PC, kitsch, literal and reductive that it cannot aspire to the condition of art. "My feeling is people will warm to it," said Quinn. "But that could just be naive optimism."
When it is unveiled on Trafalgar Square's empty fourth plinth (intended in the 19th century to carry an equestrian statue, but the money ran out), it will be "in dialogue with the other statues in the square", according to Quinn.
These, including Nelson's Column, are all commemorations of military victory and male might. Alison Lapper Pregnant, too, is an unmistakably powerful image - her jutting chin and erect pose are consciously heroic - but the subject is from one of the least powerful, least noted groups in the country. To Quinn it is important that she is pregnant: "It's a sculpture about the future, rather than past achievements."
He hopes the statue might encourage people to examine again our landscape of public sculpture. "No one really looks at it," he said. "But this statue will mess with people's subconscious. It's as if someone has come into your room when you're not there and moved the bed."
The sculpture, selected from a list of submissions by the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, under the auspices of the mayor of London, will tower over the square for 18 months, after which it will be replaced by Thomas Schütte's Hotel for the Birds. Quinn hopes, however, that this will not be the end for Alison Lapper Pregnant. He would like it to be bought by a sympathetic individual, and permanently displayed in London - "maybe next to Field Marshall Haig, on Whitehall". He believes London is the only city in the world that could have commissioned such a sculpture. "It's a city that's not afraid of taking risks. It's a place that's full of tradition, but also about innovation, capable of embracing the future. And it's a city of diversity - this work embraces that, too."
Finally, after the statue has been admired by its creator, he signs it in pencil on its left buttock. An eagle - a good omen - soars overhead. Next, workmen swaddle it in plastic, loop it up in chains, and precariously, slowly, lift on to a truck ready to be packed for its journey. What if they drop it? "If they do," said Quinn, "the sculpture will be these three guys crucified in Trafalgar Square. For real."
Forgive me...God bless this tough little woman. But it smacks of "fucking with my mind" when they stick this freak show smack bang in the middle of Trafalga Square amongst the "greats" (you know what I mean) like Lord Nelson.
It smacks of a smarmy bunch of "hairy arm pit challenged" feminists having a good go at the males inbetween zuchini breaks.
I really object to this. You should see it sitting in Trafalga Square, it looks ridiculous. Could'nt find a pic of it actually up their yet.
Henry Makow, calling Henry Makow...they're at it again!
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