In case you haven't heard, Anthony Gormley is currently in "possession" of one of the plinths at Trafalgar Square. In making a piece of public art, he decided that any member of the public could partake — by applying to perform an activity on the plinth for an hour. All you have to do, is apply, and be accepted. With the piece running 24 hours a day, for 100 days non-stop, there are plenty of slots for people to join in.
I recently passed by and saw a man clad in a high-vis jacket, riding a stationery bicycle. He was lucky, it was a sunny day and the square wasn't too crowded. He seemed to enjoy his 60 minutes of fame, as much as waving at the crowds.
But what struck me was that it wasn't just that man or his activity that made the performance. It was the square, the tourists — voyeurs, the weather. It was the atmosphere.
Not far behind the plinth was a busker playing smooth, easy listening jazz on his saxophone. Without that music, the tongue-in-cheek vibe to the man riding his bicycle would have been entirely lost. I don't think it was a joint effort, but I do think that Man-on-bicycle should be grateful to the busker, for supplying the element that really made the experience what it was.
© 2009 Vickie Chan