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  • Writer's pictureRomina Rosso

Trafalgar Square: The End

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Heather Phillipson- The End
Heather Phillipson - The End

On the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square it was unveiled, on Thursday 30 July, a new artwork entitled “The End” by British artist Heather Phillipson.

The work was selected for the Fourth Plinth Project, created since 1999, which allows contemporary artists to have their most ambitious public works seen and appreciated on a wide scale in the most iconic square of London.

“The End” is a giant swirl of whipped cream, with a red cherry on top, a fly and a drone that transmits a live feed of Trafalgar Square.

Entitled The End it suggests both exuberance and unease, responding to Trafalgar Square as a site of celebration and protest, that is shared with other forms of life. The live feed of Trafalgar Square picked up by the drone’s camera is visible on a dedicated website giving a sculpture’s eye perspective.

The End-detail
The End- detail

The work gives a sense of something being on the verge of collapse. The cream is melting round the base of the plinth, the fly makes it look unappetising.

The work’s title has to be considered as Heather Phillipson said: “In the end there is the possibility of something else forming. There’s the chance of radical change inside any ending … there is potentially hope for something else.”

The massive sculpture, in steel and polystyrene, is the tallest plinth commission to date with 9,4 metres and a weight of 9 tonnes.

The sculpture is also the first to be fully accessible, with a braille panel on the plaque, a tactile image of the work, and an audio description of the work on the GLA’s website.

The End will be based on the fourth plinth until spring 2022.

The artist, Heather Phillipson, works across video, sculpture, web projects, music, drawing and poetry.

She has been selected as the next artist for the annual Tate Britain Commission, taking over the central Duveens Galleries with a new installation due to be unveiled in March 2021.

Her recent solo projects include new commissions for Sharjah Biennial 14 and the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (both 2019), Art on the Underground’s flagship site at Gloucester Road, an online work for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and a major solo show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (all in 2018). Phillipson received the Film London Jarman Award in 2016, the European Short Film Festival selection from the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018 and is also an award-winning poet.

Heather Phillipson has been commissioned by Art on the Underground to produce a new online work to accompany her Fourth Plinth commission, The End. A counterpoint in tone to The End, Phillipson’s new audio-collage, Volta, reckons with upheaval, renewal and possibility. Written and composed by Phillipson, it combines her distinctive layering of voice, sound effects and music samples to destabilise and relocate.

Phillipson’s singular, visceral audio works connect an abundance of noises, words and images, generating multiple possible directions. Her frenzied musings bend speech to tempo and logic to rhythm, disrupting perceptions and assumptions.

The first comprehensive monograph of work by Heather Phillipson has been published to coincide with the unveiling of the Fourth Plinth commission, covering the artist’s expansive practice across video, sculpture, installation, music, poetry and digital media. It is co-published by Prestel and Art on the Underground in partnership with the GLA and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Heather Phillipson with The End
Heather Phillipson with The End

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