London’s Modern Soapbox
Former Traveler staffer Christina Stockamore gets the inside scoop on One & Other, an imaginative art installation in London’s Trafalgar Square.
If you’ve visited London in the last few months, chances are that you’ve stumbled across the unique art installation on display in Trafalgar Square. The project, called One & Other, was created by the British artist Antony Gormley, who was commissioned by the Mayor of London to create a sculpture atop the vacant fourth plinth in the northwest corner of London’s Trafalgar Square. Instead of sculpting a statue out of bronze or marble, Gormley was moved by the idea to place real people on the plinth. The idea was to feature one performer or “Plinther” every hour for 100 days straight, and the last day of the project is October 19.
My aunt, Adrianne Foglia, was one of the 2,400 artists selected out of 34,224 applicants to perform on the plinth. At midnight one night late last month, she climbed up to the top and unfurled a huge banner that said “In Your Life, Who Do You Remember? Who Would You Thank?” I watched online as she began to recount in personal detail the long list of people who had touched her life. As she spoke, she scribbled their names on a canvas in colored markers to create an abstract mosaic next to the words: “People are the colors of our lives. Each one of us is a canvas.” After she took to the plinth, I asked her to share her experience. Check our Q&A after the jump.
What went through your mind when you considered filling out the application to become a “Plinther”? Did you need a push?
I filled it out on a lark. I thought the idea was original and entertaining and was amused by the idea of humans filling the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. Since arriving in London in 2001, I have watched as different artists used the unoccupied plinth for works of art. That Antony Gormley, a fabulous artist, and one of the best known sculptors in the country would chose to put real people up there instead of one of his works amused me. I signed up on the first day, never thinking I would actually be picked.
How did you come up with the idea of the canvas?
When I got the email that I had been chosen, panic set in, as I am not a person who seeks attention. The time of my presentation, chosen by a lottery, was important because during the day the Square is filled with people and The Plinthers feel they have to play to the crowds. As my hour was at midnight, I could do something more personal and oriented toward the internet audience rather than the public. I almost immediately thought of the “People are the Colours of our Lives” idea.
I thought that this would be the one time I could stand up in public and tell people that I was grateful for their friendship, love, and advice throughout my life and that their passage through my life has helped make me the person I am today. The canvas was the way to artistically manifest what I was saying and visualize the dozens of names of my friends and family who I wanted to thank.
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What’s been the reaction to your piece?
The whole point was to use my experiences to make others think about the people they would thank if they had the same opportunity. I have heard from dozens of friends and family, old boyfriends, people I worked with years ago, and college friends all saying that I, too, had colored their lives and thanking me. It was a good exercise to make the list, which at one point was over 300 people, and remember what good memories I had of different phases of my life. And if I can stand in the middle of Trafalgar Square, on a plinth 22 feet high and broadcasting live to the world via the Internet and not be afraid, I can do just about anything now!
The Details: The One & Other project will be in Trafalgar Square through October 19, and you can watch a live feed of the artists here. For some fabulous images of Plinthers check out the Flickr pool created for the project.
Photo: Adrianne Foglia