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Last week in London’s Trafalgar Square, Heather Phillipson’s THE END was revealed as the latest Fourth Plinth commission. The 13th work to fill the plinth since the commission began in 1998, the work debuted four months late due to the Coronavirus pandemic and will remain on view through the Spring of 2022.
“When I conceived of THE END, I wanted to take into account both the political and physical aspects of Trafalgar Square and the plinth,” said Phillipson. “I’m honored to have been selected to make work for such a significant public site, and to see THE END scaled up for its ultimate size and context—one in which the surrounding architecture and its population are participants in a mis-scaled landscape, magnifying the banal, and our cohabitation with other lifeforms, to apocalyptic proportions.”
A physical and digital installation, THE END takes on the form of an enormous dollop of whipped cream with a cherry topping the square’s Fourth Plinth. Adding an air of uneasiness to an otherwise jovial creation is a drone and larger-than-life fly perched atop the 30-feet-high structure. The drone captures and transmits a live feed to a dedicated website of the square from the sculpture’s perspective. It is the first fully accessible Fourth Plinth commission, including a braille panel on the plaque with a tactile image of the work, along with an audio description online.
“The Fourth Plinth is the world’s most famous public art prize and each new sculpture breathes fresh life into our public realm. When Heather’s work was selected two years ago, we could never have imagined the world we find ourselves in today, but we always knew this sugary swirl with a dystopian flavor would spark a conversation” said Justine Simons OBE, the Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries.
Accompanying Phillipson’s commission is an online work for Art on the Underground entitled VOLTA. VOLTA is an audio collage that layers sound effects, music samples, and the artist’s voice into a work of commentary on upheaval, renewal, and possibility. The artist was also chosen as the next Tate Britain Commission, slated for March 2021.