Marc Quinn, Alison Lapper Pregnant, Olympic Opening Ceremony, 2012
Jeremy Deller, It is what it is, 2009
Following the Royal Wedding in 2011, the Queens Jubilee, the Olympics in 2012 the eyes of the world were on London for the Paralympics opening Ceremony which featured a giant replica of Marc Quins sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant. Alison Lapper is a disabled artist born with a condition known as Phocomelia, who was 8 months pregnant when the original was made, she has no arms and shortened legs so she creates her artwork by holding a paintbrush in her mouth. The original sculpture was 12ft tall and displayed in Trafalgar square, whereas the version used within the Paralympics stood at 43ft and truly was a centre piece for the ceremony. The second image is of a bombed car from a market place in Iraq which was taken back to America by artist Jeremy Deller and taken on tour. The Iraq war has been hugely controversial with a large amount of people concerned about the reasons the US government used to begin the war. However conflict is easy to forget when it isn’t taking place in your home country and the realism is almost removed from the situation when watching events on television, its difficult to contemplate the true destruction of the conflict so when Deller brought the burnt out shell back to home soil the reality of what is going on in Iraq hit home for many people.
The form of Alison Lapper pregnant is the sole purpose of the piece, often the bodies of those missing limbs can be deemed deformed and unappealing but when combined with something as beautiful as motherhood, audiences of all ages then begin to see that these disabled people are still human and can adapt themselves to being able to live incredible yet ordinary lives. It even has the ability to cause people to believe they are even stronger than a majority of people for being able to cope so well with their disabilities, which after the incredible achievements of the Paralympians they were even at times deemed ‘superhuman’. The piece takes the same form as the Venus De Milo which is one of the most memorable and beautiful statues in the eyes of many people. It’s a beautiful, human, smooth form whereas the burned out car Deller brought back was twisted, ruined and an awful reminder of what is happening overseas. The jagged edges and rusted colour a long with the fact its been flattened are utterly different to Lappers body sculpture. The bombed car is likely to weigh about a tonne as it is now just metal as opposed to all of the additional seats etc and though the exact weight of the sculpture isn’t known, it is likely to weigh around the same if not slightly more.
Each of the images purpose is to shock, whether that is because of the size or how they were created. Dellers car in particular is shocking to those who viewed it as people see cars as hugely valuable assets and not just because of the amount they alone cost but also because of the benefits they have on peoples lives each day. Having something like this viewed up close can begin to raise questions for the audience such as how the loss of such an important possession has impacted the owners and if the owners even survived the bomb attack, the shock factor lies in how personal the conflict then becomes.
The audiences for each piece would mainly be the older generations as opposed to children, but children should be able to see things like the pieces as it helps them to see whats really happening in the world around them and they may grow up with more open minds as a result. Especially where the Iraq war is concerned, its something which is happening in their lifetime and they are growing up with so educating them on it as early as possible may help their understanding which in turn will help the understanding of future generations. The Olympics and Paralympics were open to any social class but from news coverage many of the working class were disinterested in the various events at the time and were irritated at the relentless media coverage of the string of . There were even interviews used by comedy shows of the general publics reaction to interviewers.
Each image is striking in its own right, whether that is questioning your own views of what are the real capabilities of the human body or how disengaged with the things that are really going on in the world we live in. They do this in different ways, the use of man made destruction and negatives versus the natural and beautiful.