Proposal for the Fourth Plinth
By Hans Haacke
Proposed Materials: bronze, electroluminescent film
Instead of the statue of William III astride a horse, as originally planned for the empty plinth, Hans Haacke proposes a skeleton of a riderless, strutting horse. Tied to the horse’s front leg is an electronic ribbon which displays live the ticker of the London Stock Exchange. The horse is derived from an etching by George Stubbs, whose studies of equine anatomy were published the year after the birth of the reputedly decadent king, whose statue was abandoned due to a lack of funds. Haacke’s proposal makes visible a number of ordinarily hidden substructures, tied up with a bow as if a gift to all.
Haacke’s early work employed physical and organic processes, such as condensation, in what he called ‘systems’, until his focus shifted to the socio-political field of equally interdependent dynamics. For the last four decades Haacke has been examining relationships between art, power and money, and has addressed issues of free expression and civic responsibilities in democratic societies. Haacke’s practice is difficult to categorise, moving from object to image to text, from painting to photography, at times of a provocative nature.
The Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square, in its northwest corner, designed by Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860). It was originally intended to be the base for an equestrian statue of William IV, although it never happened due to funding problems.
In 1998 the Royal Academy of Arts began the Fourth Plinth Project with commissioning three consecutive works; in 2005 the scheme was reprised and has been running ever since.