Project coloration Trafalgar Square Fountains

Nicolás Uriburu


Collage, 83 x 107 cm.
Materials: b/w photograph, pencil, felt-tip pen, ink, plexi, frame

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0224).

In 1974, Uriburu participated in "Art Systems in Latin America", a group exhibition created through the close collaboration between Flor Bex and Jorge Glusberg, the director of the CAYC (Centro di Arte Y Communicacion) in Buenos Aires. The exhibition opened at the ICC in Antwerp and then travels on to the PSK in Brussels (Artistic Systems in Latin America, 28.5-28.6.1974), the ICA (London), the Espace Cardin (Paris) and the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna (Ferrara). On 29 November, the opening day of the exhibition at the ICA, he dyes the water of the fountains in Trafalgar Square. The choice of location is not accidental: it is the ‘front garden’ of the National Gallery and is one of the most popular public spaces with open-air sculpture in London. The square is dominated by the statue of Lord Nelson on a gigantic column, surrounded by four lions at its base. Together with the other statues on their plinths – including an equestrian statue of Charles I – this square was designed in the 19th century as a symbol of the might of the ‘British Empire’. To get his (ecological) message across as effectively as possible, Uriburu opts for the element of repetition in his art actions: coloring of symbolically charged public spaces, all over the world.

The police take the artist into custody, and he is taken before the court at Bow Street days later. Before being released, he has to pay a fine for "offending the English Crown". As for most 'colorings', this action is immortalised as an edited photograph.

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