(Same Old) Message in a Bottle

The latest occupant of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square is a miniature replica of HMS Victory nestling in a bottle. 

The artist Yinka Shonibare said his version of HMS Victory with its textile sails with African and batik prints is intended to reflect the multicultural and diverse capital. The ship’s 37 large sails are made of patterns which feature in African culture. Ekow Eshun, director of the beleagured ICA Gallery in the Mall nearby, and also the chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said the new piece was “topical and compelling artwork”.   It’s neither of those things actually. It’s the new cultural orthodoxy made solid, art as a way of reinforcing the modern political and cultural status quo. The arts have after all become the PR wing of the political/media class. But it is quite pretty, in a kitsch sort of way.  

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