Grand imperial London square gets touch of innocence

Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:18pm EST
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By Ethan Bilby

LONDON (Reuters) - One of the central plinths of the London square designed to celebrate Britain's imperial glory will temporarily turn the projection of power on its head with the statue of a boy on a rocking horse.

Trafalgar Square's empty Fourth Plinth -- whose neighbors include statues of imperial heroes such as Admiral Horatio Nelson and King George IV -- will be the base for "Powerless Structures, Fig. 101."

The 3.1 ton bronze boy on a rocking horse adds a bit of subversive Scandinavian cheek from Danish and Norwegian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset to the otherwise regal plaza.

Built in 1841, Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth was meant to be occupied by another triumphant equestrian statue, but was left vacant due to a shortage of funds.

The new statue was unveiled on Thursday after winning a competition held by the Fourth Plinth Program, charged by London Mayor Boris Johnson with selecting art to show on the vacant podium.

"It's a very clever twist on the equestrian statue which is what the plinth was originally built for, and instead of celebrating military victory, it celebrates innocence and childhood - I think Londoner's will love it," Munira Mirza, the Mayor's advisor on culture and youth told Reuters.

Since 1998, the program has exhibited often controversial artwork on the podium including a ship-in-a-bottle and human statues.

"It's lovely that it can be here as a monument," 30-year-old French tourist Daniel said.   Continued...