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Giant Rocking Horse Gets Olympic-Year Showcase in London

Trafalgar Square Statue
"Powerless Structures, Fig. 101" by Elmgreen and Dragset. The work has gone on display in London's Trafalgar Square. Photographer: Farah Nayeri, Bloomberg

The bronze sculpture of a curly-haired boy on a rocking horse was presented to Londoners today as the latest artwork chosen for the vacant platform in Trafalgar Square, known as the Fourth Plinth.

Selected for the year of the 2012 London Olympic Games, “Powerless Structures, Fig. 101” is by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset. The child, a symbol of the ordinary, is intended to contrast with the heroic statues elsewhere in the square.

“He is fearless,” said artist Michael Elmgreen of the bronze boy he co-designed. “He is still of an age where you don’t have all the worries and the fears, and you don’t see so many real enemies.”

At a time when people are fretting about the state of the world and the economy, the work is “a little encouragement to maybe get rid of a bit of the fear,” said Elmgreen, “because we have to hope for the future, and the next generation has to do it better than us.”

Every year, Trafalgar Square’s empty plinth is filled by the winner of an art contest organized by the Mayor of London. In 2013, the square will host Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock,” a 4.35-meter (14-foot) ultramarine cockerel that is, among other things, an emblem of male-dominated Britain.

Lumley Praise

Joanna Lumley, the actress, pulled the veil off the statue. She had worked with the artists a few years ago on a presentation of works at London’s Old Vic Theatre.

“It’s not too stern, not too earnest, not too longing to achieve,” Lumley said of the sculpture, as she sat on a bench below it. “It’s simply somebody riding a horse for the hell of it, having fun and looking up to the sky.”

Previously on the plinth was artist Yinka Shonibare’s replica of Admiral Horatio Nelson’s vessel, set inside a bottle and fitted with sails made of patterned African-style textiles. The square is named after Nelson’s defeat of the French Navy in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.

Between July and October 2009, sculptor Antony Gormley had 2,400 volunteers put themselves on the platform for 100 days in a project named “One & Other.”

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