Art on the Underground commissioned Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger to create the March 2008 Pocket Tube Map.
Coinciding with the opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 Going Underground appropriates the RAF ‘roundel’ which consists of red, white and blue concentric circles. Placing this roundel on the front cover of the Pocket Tube Map draws the historic symbol into a new context, consequently making formal references with LU’s own famous logo as well as referring to historical links between both institutions.
Going Underground continues Wallinger’s particular social commentary, which has previously focused on class, royalty and nationalism. Through his early paintings and later sculptural works, Wallinger has explored our understanding of what we mean by England and our national identity. Often appropriating the symbols and myths we employ to represent and articulate these perceptions and the institutions that uphold them he encourages us to question what they really mean and do for us in the contemporary world.
Mark Wallinger says: “The work came together because the roundels for the two organisations – RAF and LU – link together nicely in a formal way, but also because the relationship between them is conceptually interesting. The RAF is closely associated with the Second World War, when LU became known as a bomb shelter during the Blitz. Following on from that, the RAF roundel was appropriated by the Mods, then bands like the Jam and eventually became a London phenomenon. This gave me the idea for the title of the work, Going Underground.”