Marcus Coates

Unmade Monument

Proposed Materials: concrete based resin, fibreglass, steel

Marcus Coates

Born 1968 in London

Lives and works in London

Recent solo exhibitions include: South Alberta Art Gallery, Canada (2012), and Milton Keynes Gallery (2010). Recent public art projects include School of the imagination, Create London (2013) and Vision Quest: a ritual for Elephant & Castle (2012). Coates has also performed at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Kunsthalle Zurich; Barbican Art Gallery, London; Hayward Gallery, London and Serpentine Gallery, London.


‘This is a monument to non-human art, a symbol to inspire and provoke the imagination of anyone regardless of age or nationality.’

Trafalgar Square is almost entirely fashioned from stone, sourced from all over Britain and manipulated into buildings, pillars and statues by the will of architects, designers and sculptors. Marcus Coates plans to contrast these symbols of rational progress with a huge replica of a gritstone outcrop created hundreds of millions of years ago in Yorkshire by the natural forces of ice, wind and rain. Its form suggests a face or a bird, as we automatically try to make sense of the organic shapes that emerge and retreat as we walk around it, and invest it with human qualities or mythical powers. It would be a monument to non-human creativity and a totem of timeless, irrepressible powers.

Coates makes videos, performances and installations that are in turn sublime and humorous, asking audiences and participants to explore their imaginations in ways they might not ordinarily. Communing with animal and bird spirits, emulating their movements or transmitting their calls and cries, the artist attempts to answer questions on how we can live in urban societies. His observations might strike a chord with his audiences through metaphor, or through the sheer desire to make sense of a disordered universe.

Marcus Coates was born 1968 in London where he lives and works.

Hans Haacke

Gift Horse (2013)

Proposed Materials: bronze, electroluminescent film

Hans Haacke

Born 1936 in Cologne

Lives and works in New York

Recent solo exhibitions include Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2012); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA (2011); Deichtorhallen Hamburg and Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2006). Haacke’s work has been included in four Documentas and numerous biennials around the world, most recently the Sharjah Biennial (2011). He shared a Golden Lion with Nam June Paik for the best pavilion of the 45th Venice Biennial (1993). In 2000 a permanent installation was inaugurated in the Reichstag (German Parliament Building) in Berlin.


‘What happens if the invisible hand of the market ties the knot for us?’

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.

Hans Haacke was born 1936 in Cologne, Germany. He lives and works in New York.

Mark Leckey

Larger Squat Afar (2013)

Proposed Materials: fiberglass laminate

Mark Leckey

Born 1964 in Birkinhead

He lives and works in London

Recent solo exhibitions include The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2013); Banff Centre, Alberta (2012); Serpentine Gallery, London (2011); Abrons Art Center, New York (2009), and Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2008). Leckey curated the Hayward Touring show ‘The universal addressability of dumb things’ (2013) and was awarded the Turner Prize in 2008.


‘I believe the proposal reflects how we now approach the world in the 21st century. Because of current technology, objects and artefacts are no longer these fixed, permanent things. Instead we look at any sculpture, object or image and ask, what can I do with that? How can I change it to suit my desires?’

Larger Squat Afar is an anagram of ‘Trafalgar Square’, and Mark Leckey’s chimera is itself an amalgam of elements lifted from all the statues found in the square. Details of James II, the water fountain, Admiral Jellicoe and the plinth itself are enmeshed into a single figure, which, while appearing absurd illustrates the compound history of both people and place. Fabricated using 3D laser scanning and printing technology, Larger Squat Afar embodies the power of the digital to overcome the physical and to fulfill the more monstrous capacities of the human imagination.

Leckey frequently looks to the mediated nature of public and private environments, in which imagery is employed to transcend the mundane. Collage and animation techniques are used in videos and sculptures, where the hidden is made explicit, desires are expressed and obscure personal narratives are revealed. It is digital platforms, above all else, that signal the contemporary for Leckey, where even the inanimate object can appear to communicate to us at will.

Mark Leckey was born in 1964 in Birkenhead, UK. He lives and works in London.

Liliane Lijn

The Dance

Proposed Materials: Brushed anodised aluminium

Liliane Lijn

Born 1939 in New York

Lives and works in London

Recent solo exhibitions include mima, Middlesbrough (2012); Earth Body Art, Museo Santa Croce, Umbertide (2012); Sir John Soane’s Museum (2011); Royal Academy Schools Gallery, London (2008), and Mead Gallery, Warwick (2005). Recent public commissions include Starslide, for Evelina Children’s Hospital, London, Solar Beacon, on Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, and Light Pyramid, commissioned by Park Trust and Milton Keynes Gallery.


‘Relating both to the surrounding buildings and to the people inhabiting Trafalgar Square, The Dance seeks to bring together the formal and organic, animate and inanimate, monumental and pedestrian.’

Rather than one imposing sculptural object, Liliane Lijn’s proposal The Dance features the complex changing relation between two apparently identical objects. The cone is a ubiquitous abstract form that occurs in mathematical, mythical and astronomical systems. Here the cones also relate to the spire of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, while their gleaming metallic surfaces recall the machinery of space travel. Once The Dance begins, formal geometry gives way to sensual movement and we become mesmerised by the energy of the interaction.

The shifting shapes and interactions of The Dance are an extension of Lijn’s interest in combining energy and matter, language and light. Her small and large-scale kinetic installations often use technologies such as laser cutting, programmable electronics and aerogel, a material used by NASA to capture stardust. Lijn’s Poemcons and Poem Machines, rotating cones and drums bearing evocative words and phrases, offer tantalising fragments of meaning and insight, while ultimately falling apart in the mind.

Liliane Lijn was born 1939 in New York. She lives and works in London.

Ugo Rondinone

Moon Mask (2013)

Proposed Materials: Aluminium, steel

Ugo Rondinone

Born 1964 in Brunnen, Switzerland

Lives and works in New York

Recent solo exhibitions include M Museum, Leuven (2013); Art Institute of Chicago (2013); Common Guild, Glasgow (2012); Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens (2012), and Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau (2010). Public commissions include Rockefeller Plaza, New York, IBM Building, New York and Louis Vuitton, Munich. In 2007 Rondinone represented Switzerland in the 52nd Venice Biennale.


‘Our connection to other people is our face. Our alternate self is a mask.  Who are we?  What binds us together?’

Ugo Rondinone’s MOON MASK, modelled expressively by hand, enlarged, cast in aluminium, and fixed to a pole, would be an abstract sentinel facing out over the square. MOON MASK seemingly refers to many visual traditions – perhaps the folk art of an ancient clan or early 20th century Cubism, which was itself influenced by African tribal masks – and yet it makes no specific claims for its origin. The eventual work would inspire free association, its three window-like apertures suggesting portals through which cultural references and individual emotions can tumble at will.

Rondinone’s preoccupation with time - at the cosmic scale as well as that of art history and everyday experience - often finds form in abstract imagery intended to connect the sublime with the everyday. His optically shimmering mandala paintings, for example, re-use the geometric Buddhist symbol for eternity. Elsewhere figures made from stacked, roughly hewn cubes of rock seem to express an ancient sense of awe in the face of nature, while also offering a range of contemporary readings from the psychological to the comical.

Ugo Rondinone was born in 1964 in Brunnen, Switzerland. He lives and works in New York.

David Shrigley

Really Good (2013)

Proposed Materials: Bronze

David Shrigley

Born 1968 in Macclesfield

Lives and works in Glasgow

Recent exhibitions include Cornerhouse Gallery (2012); Hayward Gallery, London (2012); Yerba Beuna Centre for the Arts, San Francisco (2012); Turku Art Museum, Finland (2011); M Museum, Leuven (2010), and Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow (2010). Shrigley’s Sort of Opera: Pass the Spoon was performed at Tramway, Glasgow, and Southbank Centre, London (2011–2); his animations have been screened at numerous film festivals and won Public Choice Best Film Award at the British Animation Awards (2006). Shrigley has been nominated for the Tuner Prize 2013.


‘It is my hope that this piece would make Trafalgar Square, London, the UK and the world a better place. And it would be quite a cost-effective way of doing it.’

A giant hand in a thumbs-up gesture, and with a really long thumb at that, must mean that something, somewhere, is really good. But what is that something and where is it? Is it Trafalgar Square? Or all of London? Or maybe the artwork itself? And if it’s so good, why is that? Who says so? And will we agree?

Really Good would be cast in bronze with the same dark patina as the other statues in the Square, the comic extension of the thumb bringing it up to ten metres in height. Shrigley’s ambition is that this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy; that things considered ‘bad’, such as the economy, the weather and society, will benefit from a change of consensus towards positivity.

Shrigley’s daily tirade of satirical vignettes takes the British tradition of satire into three and four dimensions. In his drawings and animations protagonists express their dark impulses and are subject to the violence and irrationality of life, while his sculptures are often jokes in 3D form, reflecting the absurdity of contemporary society.

David Shrigley was born in 1968 in Macclesfield. He lives and works in Glasgow.