Saturday, March 7, 2009
Mark Wallinger won the 2007 Turner prize for his reconstructon of peace campaigner Brian Haw's protest outside the Houses of Parliament against Britain's war in Iraq. Wallinger picked up the lucrative and prestigious gong courtesy of Brian Haw's heroism, without actually subjecting himself to any of the difficulties Haw faced during his long, arduous and dangerous vigil. I thought of this after reading that Wallinger has won a commission to put a lifelike sculpture of a horse in the Kent coutryside. The only imaginative element of this creation will be that it will be "so huge that a person standing next to it will be no taller than one of the horse's hooves" (The Guardian). Someone should have told Wallinger the real meaning of the phrase "big ideas". As it is, the sculpture looks set to become an eyesore for years to come. There's a similarly monstrous creation in St. Pancras station: under the magnificent (and beautifully restored) Victorian ironwork there's a gigantic bronze of a man and woman. It doesn't take a Jonathan Swift to point out that the more the human figure is magnified, the more grotesque its features become. From whence did these artists get the notion that enlarging things to immense proportions makes them intelligent or interesting? Or is it just that they needed projects that justified a huge grant, but didn't risk challenging authority or any preconceived ideas?