Elmgreen & Dragset are to create a male version of Denmark’s national icon The Little Mermaid
Denmark’s national icon The Little Mermaid is to get a dressing down with a new sculpture by Elmgreen & Dragset. This summer will see a male version of the female icon in the Danish city of Elsinore created by the artists currently occupying Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth.
The new sculpture will be called ‘Han’ and will depict a man sitting on a stone in the same manner that the The Little Mermaid sits in Copenhagen. The male figure and the stone have been cast in polished stainless steel. And, better still, the boy will have robotic eyes that will blink once every hour.
The sculpture has been commissioned by by the city of Elsinore and funded by The Danish National Arts Council. Elmgreen & Dragset are responsible for the Rocking Horse sculpture currently occupying Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth – Powerless Structures, Fig. 101. This work has been described by Boris Johnson as ‘a gleaming talisman to watch over our city during this fantastic Olympic year’. It operates in reference to the heroic equestrian statue originally intended for the plinth upon construction in 1841. Cast in bronze and elevated alongside Nelson himself, the child achieves the celebrated status of a military hero in his boyhood fantasy, emulating in innocent play the bloody generals of history.
In the words of the artists, this pun on public monument ‘honours the everyday battles of growing up’, encourages viewers to reconsider the everyday moments of their lives – ostensibly unspectacular, but nevertheless heroic – the struggles of the everyman celebrated alongside traditional icons of reverence. In a period of economic turmoil, foreign war, and looming environmental disaster, the artwork also asks us to look to the future, reassuring us that new heroes will indeed arise to lead mankind from the jaws of destruction.
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