Not before time, thinking about Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant brings me back to London and to the oversized cock that is Katharina Fritsch’s work for the fourth plinth: Cock (or Hahn/Cock to give it its full German and English title). Of all the works yet to grace the plinth, and there have been some great ones, some less great ones and one that seemed to make it rain all summer*, I think Hahn/Cock is probably the one that has amused me the most. In the damp greyness of this less than satisfactory winter, it stands proud on the plinth ready to make people chuckle.
It’s big. It’s blue. It’s a cock. What’s not to smile at?
Given that this is the season on sparkly lights, it seems timely to remind myself about Joana Vasconcelos’s Trafaria Praia, the Pavilion of Portugal at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Part art installation, part ferry, this was an unusual space even for Venice. Vasconcelos transformed a Lisbon ferry into an installation that made regular tours of the lagoon. The boat was moored close to the exit of the Giardini – one of the two main Biennale sites and home to many national pavilions – but those who timed their visits right could take a short trip around the lagoon on the Trafaria Praia.
Given more time, I suspect I’d have enjoyed the trip well enough but the pressure of trying to see everything I want to at biennale is such that time based works are inevitably tricky and this is a city where being on land is the novelty so my visit to Trafaria Praia was restricted to visiting the boat at its mooring point. Until I boarded the boat I’d kind of forgotten about the excess of Vasconcelos’s work but, even if it’d been really fresh in my mind, nothing of hers I’ve seen before would have quite prepared me for this.
Roger Hiorns, Seizure (detail: crystals on wall), 2008
Although I knew the basis of the work – a flat full of copper sulphate crystals – nothing could quite have prepared me for Roger Hiorns’s 2008 installation Seizure. Unlike the installations I’ve written about in the last few posts, this wasn’t remotely disorientating – that wasn’t the idea at all – rather, it was the astonishingly beautiful result of a process that was both hugely ambitious and possibly a little bit crazy.
With the support of Artangel – who make it possible for artists to realise unusually difficult projects such as this one, or Michael Landy’s Breakdown – Hiorns sealed one of the flats before introducing copper sulphate solution which was then left to crystallise. The result was a blue wonderland in a run-down low-rise block in inner London.