Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Marc Quinn, Yinka Shonibare and the Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth

Upon its reveal, BBC News presented the factual debates over Marc Quinn's statue of Alison
Lapper, providing quotes from the artist, model and critics, detailing specifically that Robert
Simon, editor of the British Art Journal, believed it to be a horrible piece but not for the
obvious subject matter but for the aesthetics. (BBC, 2005) However, it appeared that the
fresh, white marble and impacting girth of the sculpture were amongst the very aspects of
the piece that were forcing audiences opinions of beauty and grace. Elements that are
reminiscent of the Venus De Milo, an intentional comparison created by Marc Quinn. The
aesthetics of the piece, set against a political setting of London's Trafalgar Square, created
an iconographic piece, not just in relating beauty to disability but to the developments of
psychological, social and political attitudes of disability awareness and even heroism in
comparison to the background of Nelson HMS Victory.

Marc Quinn, 'Alison Lapper', The Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London, 2005-2007

Another exhibitor of the Trafalgar's Square's Fourth Plinth, Yinka Shonibare, unveiled on May
24th, 2010, "Nelson's Ship in a Bottle", which celebrated the creative and economically
dynamic city of London and attempted to capture the globalization of the city. The Mayor of
London, Boris Johnson, thanked Shonibare for the way in which he incapsulated history in
his work of art. (BBC NEWS, 2010) It is evident in the work, his Nigerian background is
integrated into the historic English victory, through the use of African material used for the
sails of the ship. This mergence of culture is a representation of London's multi-cultural
community. Shonibare makes no connection to his disability nor references disability as a
cultural factor in this work. However, having Shonibare, a known disabled artist exhibit at the
Trafalgar Square and with a work making reference to Nelson's ship, it only reprises the
efforts of predecessor, Marc Quinn, in appropriating disability heroism.

Yinka Shonibare,"Ship In a Bottle", The Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London, 2010- 2012

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