What Would You Do On the Top of a Plinth in Trafalgar Square for an Hour?

So have you heard about One & Other, the performance art piece (created by Antony Gormley) going on in London where a single person spends one hour on top of a statue base doing whatever they want? Over the course of 100 days, 2400 Britons will have their 60 minutes in the limelight. They wear a mic and are broadcast live on the internet. Some read aloud, others speachify, or chat with folks on the ground, talk on their cell phone, play a musical instrument.

I have yet to see any of the daytime slots, so when I’ve checked in, “performances” have been fascinatingly dull. One woman read Dr. Suess through a bullhorn, a guy sat and read aloud from a Penquin classic, and another woman wrote messages on a wipe board that were totally unintelligible from the webcam. (Tip to future “plinthers,” don’t hold stuff up to the camera for us to read unless the font is really really huge.)

The web coverage (streaming live 24/7) is actually quite good; images are clear, the cameras provide multiple angles and seem to respond to what’s going on (as opposed to the usual webcam that’s static and fuzzy.) The audio (when it’s on) is clear. I just watched a woman narrate her experience on the plinth as the sun came up over London while she wrote 12 postcards to send to folks around the globe. Boring and charming at the same time.

I’m kind of surprised by the lack of performance in most of the segments I’ve tuned in on. Where you’d think people would devise a way to entertain or use their allotted time to make a statement, plead a cause or be discovered, instead they’re exposing themselves in one of the most public ways possible while carrying out utterly personal and intimate activities (reading, writing, talking on the phone.) The guy on now is holding up a blown-up photo of his dear departed dad and answering questions about him from people walking by. It’s a strange juxtaposition and interesting to see what people come up with, fulfilling the artist’s wildest dreams of “the democratization of art.”

Which leads me to this question: If you were one of the 2400 plinthers (randomly chosen from over 22,000 applicants), what would you do for your hour?

(photo by ericsnaps’ from the One and Other photo pool on Flickr.)

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5 Responses

  1. Karen

    Well, there’d be the obligatory picture-taking, of course. And maybe a little reading, just b/c it’d be a cool reading spot. But then one would feel the need to entertain the people in the square as well as on the internet. So, I’d bring a play or two, and toss out copies to the crowd, and do an impromptu reading (inspired by our friend, Marie).
    The one thing I wouldn’t do: Talk on my cell phone.

  2. Recite a couple of poems and dance. FINALLY I’d have the audience I deserve. And play “My Old Kentucky Home” on the harmonica–since it’s the only song I remember.

  3. Marie

    Good idea, Karen. For myself, I was thinking I would corral friends and colleagues to help me act out a bunch of balcony scenes (from Shakespeare, of course). I thought of a couple in addition to the famous balcony scene from R&J, and I’m sure that with a little research and re-interpretation, there could be many more. I’d throw in some sonnets to fill the time.
    Now I really want to see someone do this…

  4. Karen

    It could also be cool to dress up as statues of several overlooked but important heroes, people who deserve statues but don’t have them. And then read maybe from their words:
    Ron Santo: “Oh, no! That’s exactly what we didn’t want to see happen. Aw, jeez!!!!!”

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