Naturally, with a programme as wide-ranging and huge as the 2012 Festival, the arts and culture offering to mark the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games, or Cultural Olympiad, you can’t please all the people all the time.
We can’t help fell it’s a but cheeky of festival organisers to conveniently shoehorn many arts events running between June and September into the London 2012 bracket – when shows at the V&A, the Tate and The Serpentine would be happening regardless.
Despite this, there are some rather great sounding commissions planned. A definite highlight looks set to be Jeremy Deller’s bouncy castle scale replica of Stonehenge, which will tour the country to locations that will be revealed on signing up to the Festival website.
Meanwhile, the real Stonehenge will be taken over by French street art group Compagnie Carabosse, dotting the imposing landmark with fire in what’s billed as a ‘fiery fairytale environment.’
Many other commissions are also taking Britain’s existing formidable landmarks as their settings. Artist Peter Kuhn will be creating an installation of patterns and codes for The Giants Causeway in his Flags piece; Exploratory Laboratory will see artists and scientists collaborate on a range of installations across Dorset’s Jurassic Coast; and York-based artists YesYesNo will be working along Hadrian’s Wall, creating a line of lights for sending messages across the Roman Frontier in Connecting Light.
The Olympic Park itself will also be hosting 25 new artworks, all but two of which will remain in place after the games. The largest is Monica Bonvicini’s RUN – a nine-metre high sculpture that acts as a mirror in daylight and a glowing light at night time.
Representing the literary contingent is Winning Words, a programme of permanent poems in the park; while Keith Watson’s Steles (Waterworks) installations aim to evoke nautical way finding systems, with brightly coloured markers connecting the parkland with the river that flows through it.
Organisers, however, are keen to emphasise their non-London-centric outlook; with a somewhat irritating emphasis on the idea of ‘pop-up’ commissions.
One of the ‘art in unusual places’ commissions the Festival is keen to emphasise is artist Richard Wilson’s work at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, East Sussex, which sees a full-scale replica coach dangling off the roof of the building in homage to The Italian Job.
Other automobile-based artwork arrives courtesy of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons and BMW for BMW Art Cars, a series of vehicles with bespoke artist-designed bodywork. These will be on display at a currently undisclosed car park in central London.
Probably the piece DW is most intrigued by is, predictably, the one that hasn’t quite been given the go-ahead. Artist Anthony McCall has proposed a huge spinning Column piece to rise above the River Mersey. If the work finally gets approval – subject to findings from planners and the civil aviation authority – the work will be a column-like water-droplet form visible up to 60 miles away. The piece will be created using convection currents of cloud and mist, formed form gently rotating the water on the surface of the Mersey and then adding heat, making droplets rise into the air. If it’s anything near as brilliant as the Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture exhibition that completely blew us away at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnfof, it looks set to be the big, damp, watery jewel in the London 2012 crown.
For more information on the London 2012 Festival visit www.london2012.com/festival