Turner Prize Winner Rachel Whiteread He called for an end to the Fourth Rule Sculpture program amid new evidence of the difficulty of leading artists such as her face in finding a permanent home for their work.
The Guardian has established that three-quarters of the former Rule Four commissions are currently in storage, and only one is on offer in the UK.
Whiteread’s own cast resin for the base It has not been seen in public since its appearance on Trafalgar Square in 2001. She said the show needed a rethink.
She told The Guardian: “I think it ran out, there were some really great projects, and then there were some not-so-great projects.”
The program’s original goal was to find a permanent home for a contemporary monument on the vacant base. “There’s no permanence yet,” Whiteread said. “It’s been nice to have a display space over such a long period, but I think it’s had its time as a rule. One of the more interesting things that can be done now is to leave it empty.”
I suggested that the program’s 24-year history could be displayed on a plaque near the base, or on a phone app. She said, “The people who make these decisions need a long, deep reflection, because now the art world is a completely different place, and Trafalgar Square is now a completely different place.”
Whiteread failed to find a home for the fourth base piece. “One goes forward and just tries to be philosophical about these things. It is very difficult in this country to create public sculptures and permanently locate them, especially in a place like Trafalgar Square.”
In a sign of her steer clear of monumental work, she added, “That’s why I make shy sculptures now—that’s the way to make these things happen and make them permanent.”
Other Fourth Base artists share Whiteread’s frustration. Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz talks about his work in 2018 The invisible enemy should not be aroundI have no idea when he will appear again. Putting pieces into storage is always a problem.”
He described the Fourth Base program as “magical” and “pretty rare”, but suggested paying more attention to what happens after works are removed. He said, “There is all this work and material that goes into the work. It would not only be tragic, but also immoral, for something to be thrown away afterwards.”
David Shrigley says stopping the program would be a “huge tragedy”. He said, referring to the Really Good casting, 7 meters elongated from bronze Last seen on base in 2018.
Shrigley has been awarded £130,000 before London Mayor’s office to get work done. Since then stocking work has cost about the same. “Since it’s been in storage for five years, it’s probably close to six figures,” he said. “Art storage is a booming industry.”
Like Whiteread, Shrigley had to sell smaller copies of his fourth major work to make it financially viable. “The artwork is there to be shown and for people to enjoy,” he said.
Shrigley considered donating the work but did not want to burden an institution with the cost of transporting and displaying a multi-ton sculpture. He added, “Context is half the work. So it’s really hard to take something out of context and put it somewhere else.” He said that a high percentage of former fourth base pieces in storage “does not necessarily represent a failure.” “They all have value, and it’s hard to say where they are. In terms of civic art replication, the fourth rule is a drop in the ocean, and perhaps having a conversation like that is very helpful. It might make people think again.”
In the early 2000s, after the first three sculptures came out, the public was to vote on which should be chosen permanently into the vacant base. This idea was abandoned in favor of the current two-year rolling program.
“It was a vague mess of original intent,” said Whiteread, whose monument was one of those three pieces.
Mark Wallingers Ecce Homo It was the first contemporary carving to appear on a plinth. He said that despite the program’s popularity, it has not changed the appearance of public spaces. He said: “Many of our civic spaces are still Victorian in age and outlook, [an era that was] No one admitted much doubt or room for the oppressed or the disadvantaged.
“Obviously there must be a discussion about what we want from our civic spaces and art in the public domain. There have been very few works commissioned since the war to reflect the times we lived in, and far too many bronze monuments of the empire remain, which are outdated Time is at its best, at its base.”