Wannabe: Posing for Posterity?
The Everyman's bid for the limelight is being encouraged as artists and photographers in London give the public their own chance to be the sign of the times. But does 'reality' being embraced by bonafide creatives offer anything to anyone beyond the most dedicated voyeurs? By Sophie MaxwellBy: Sophie Maxwell, Published: Aug 04, 2009
"I was very keen to have my photograph taken by the great photographer because I have a head like a horse, and I'd love to represent a tiny part of the city I love." -- Richard Hector Jones
"If I was invisible for a day I would go to the front line in war and watch and appreciate what is done." -- Lauren Mellor
I have to admit being a bit disappointed while reading the majority of quotes behind the images; what should have been the most interesting part of the project most definitely isn't. Grasping at the ubiquitous game of fame for fame's sake, is seemingly the mainstay of today's ambition and although the above comments are on the one hand fun, on the other more poignant, there was a distinct lack of real and resonant reasons for wanting to be included.
Another chance for the public to make a literal show of themselves has been Anthony Gormley's fourth plinth. Known for rather more staid structures – such as the imposing iconic casts he made of his own body and displayed around the Thames in 2007 – he has commandeered the empty plinth in London's Trafalgar Square for a piece of living art.
Anthony Gormley's rather longer rationale runs as such: "through elevation onto the plinth, and removal from the common ground, the body becomes a metaphor, a symbol... In the context of Trafalgar Square with its military, valedictory and male historical statues to specific individuals, this elevation of everyday life to the position formerly occupied by monumental art allows us to reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in contemporary society. It could be tragic but it could also be funny."
Working day-to-day in branding makes it second nature to put public opinion, lives, needs and wants at the centre of our thoughts. The rise of reality viewing and increasing popularity of customization and personalization doesn't make it hard to work out where projects like this have sprung from and why they could be considered provocative and even progressive. However, time will tell how long we will stay interested.
Celebrities are guarded by management teams for a reason -- they are there to peddle aspiration, not put their foot in it by being too "civilian." Conversely, what makes reality shows compelling is that they parade individuality and human error. They have no agenda other than making a quick buck, and they certainly don't concern themselves with creating the lasting influence and social progress art aspires to.
On the one hand, it's undeniable progress for everyone to feel they have the opportunity to have a voice, but do these kind of projects really achieve this? I am ready to stand corrected, but so far this kind of project only serves to show why the two shouldn't try and mix: especially in the case of Rankinlive, where polishing off the everyday grit from the everyday only results in a bland type of Mcfame.