To be unveiled on Monday 4th June at 3pm in Trafalgar Square by
The Right Hon. Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Rachel Whiteread's sculpture for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar square will be unveiled on Monday 4th June. A facsimile of the granite plinth has been cast in water-clear resin and sits reversed on top of the original. Its huge bulk rendered almost insubstantial by the material, the work will refract the bustling traffic of the square.
"I decided that the most appropriate sculpture for the plinth would be to make a 'pause': a quiet moment for the space"
Monument is Rachel Whiteread's fourth major public work, after the Turner prize-winning House in 1993-4, her resin cast of a water tower in New York for the Public Art Fund, and the recently unveiled Holocaust Memorial in Vienna. As ever, Rachel Whiteread has pushed materials and techniques to their limits, and this will be the largest cast ever made in resin.
This is the third and final work of contemporary art to be installed in Trafalgar Square under the Fourth Plinth Project, the brainchild of Prue Leith, past Chairman of the RSA. The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square had remained empty for one hundred and fifty eight years.
Rachel Whiteread's sculpture was funded by the artist, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London and Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York.
Rachel Whiteread's preparatory drawings for Monument will be on display at Anthony d'Offay Gallery, 9 Dering Street from 4th June to 21st July.
The first solo exhibition of Rachel Whiteread's work in a public art gallery in London is on view at the Serpentine Gallery from 20th June to 5th August.
30 October 1998 15 January 1999
This will be Rachel Whiteread's first show with the Anthony d'Offay Gallery, and the first new work by the artist to be shown in London in more than three years. Five new sculptural pieces will occupy the galleries at 21 and 24 Dering Street, and a series of new photo editions of images collected by the artist as a source of inspiration - architectural forms, domestic details, dumped baths and mattresses - will also be exhibited for the first time.
The three massive, freestanding blocks of Untitled (Book Corridors) create the aisles of a library through which we can walk, browsing the blank shelves with their impressions of thousands of missing pages. Cast in negative, the spaces of the shelves are solid plaster with empty sockets where the books have been torn away. Whiteread has cast shelves of books, in negative or positive form, in a number of pieces over the last three or four years, signalling a change in the focus of the artist's attention from individual and autobiographical memory to collective and historical memory. It is a process that began with the cast of a wardrobe redolent of childhood memories, and leads to the soon-to-be-realised Holocaust Memorial in the Judenplatz, Vienna.
Whiteread's monumentalised library works, and above all the Holocaust memorial, remind that books are sacred repositories of culture and civilisation as well as familiar domestic objects. Acts of destruction to books or libraries typify oppression and persecution, censorship, philistinism. Although Untitled (Book Corridors) embodies the hushed stillness of a library, there is a barely submerged element of violence in it. The books have been ripped from the plaster and sometimes leave fragments of themselves behind. Whiteread's method of casting direct from her subject means that the destruction of the original object is a necessary part of the creation of its sculptural double. Untitled (Fiction), a wall piece also cast from bookshelves, is a more painterly variation on the theme. The absent volumes, cheap paperback novels - detective stories, romance, science fiction - have left stains of red, yellow, blue and green where the dye from the edges of the pages has bled into the plaster during the casting process.
The domestic objects, or spaces, of Whiteread's work contain a narrative of the everyday functions of human life; eating, sleeping, washing. Books themselves are materialisations of past human activity, they memorialise lives and experiences. The spaces created in Whiteread's concretisation of a library are filled with the concentration of absent stories and memories. The fact that the shelves are blank and unreadable creates a space for our own narratives, a space for memory and imagination.
The three forms of Untitled (Elongated Plinths) are abstract shapes, the stretched form of an earlier cast as the title suggests. Though conceived in these purely formal aesthetic terms they recall the earlier Slabs, dissecting tables, and the sarcophagi-like Baths. All have dimensions which seem to fit them to receive a human body, naked or dead. While in method Whiteread is constant to the traditional sculptural technique of casting, in her materials she continues to innovate and experiment. The elongated plinths are cast in the plastic she recently used in her Water Tower project in New York, here made opaque with a white pigment. They have an unfamiliar surface appearance, a milky smoothness and sheen beguiling to touch, in complete contrast to the rough grey forms of Untitled (Nine Tables). Whiteread has only used concrete before in House, now destroyed. In these smaller casts the pitted, grainy surface gives each form a slight variation beside its identical neighbours. These are stacking tables, as found in a school or community centre, and their function depends on their identical repeating form. The space made concrete is one that relates to the human body, where our knees would fit beneath to work or eat, and also a space that relates to its neighbours, where the other tables would slot.
Whiteread has spoken of her preoccupation with the psychology of violence and extremes of human behaviour: obsession, compulsion, irrationality. In the catalogue which accompanies the exhibition, the dark shadows behind Whiteread's luminous images are thrown into sharper relief by the writing of young American author A.M. Homes. The first chapter of her novel in progress, 'Music for Torching' appears in the catalogue as a short story, with a foreword illuminating Homes' response to Whiteread's work. Homes, too, documents the bones of everyday existence, simplifying ruthlessly to achieve the essence of things.
Rachel Whiteread was awarded the Turner prize in 1993 and was the artist selected for the British Pavilion at the 1997 Venice Biennale. Most recently she has completed Water Tower, a project for the Public Art Fund in New York, and her work is currently touring Japan with the exhibition Real/Life. The Judenplatz holocaust memorial is scheduled for completion in 1999.