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Monday, 3 September 2012

Among the public artworks commissioned in Britain in conjunction with the Olympics is Richard Wilson’s monumental statue atop the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

Titled “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea…,” it’s a replica of a tour bus (coach) teetering over the edge of the building. And it really does teeter. With hydraulics attached to the underside of the bus, and firmly to the roof, the bus rocks randomly.

The Guardian explains; there’s also a video interview with the artist at that site. Actor and comedian Eddie Izzard, who helped to sponsor this artwork, explained the motivation behind it:
By the end of 2012 I would hope the word goes out from our country that not only do we run excellent world events, but we also balance coaches on the edges of buildings like no one else ever could.
I was actually disappointed to read that the artwork and its title refer to the 1968 heist movie The Italian Job, which ends with Michael Caine delivering that line in a similar situation. That turned a sculpture I’d imagined as a humorous yet existential comment on life into an homage to pop culture—like a bronze statue of Fonzie. However well made that bronze statue is, it has kitsch mixed into the metal.

So perhaps my loyalties in Britain’s new public art will shift to “Sacrilege,” Jeremy Deller’s full-scale recreation of Stonehenge as an inflatable bouncy castle. It raises such important questions as: Is it possible to imagine large numbers of American parents taking their children to anything called “Sacrilege”?

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