London Underground is pleased to announce a new poster work as part of the ongoing Platform for Art programme. The posters, which will appear randomly on the network over the coming few months , are by emerging artist Lucy Skaer in collaboration with designer Sara De Bondt.
The poster is part of a larger project by the artist collective, Henry VIII’s Wives, of which Skaer is a member. Henry VIII’s Wives aim to build the unrealised utopian tower designed by artist Vladimir Tatlin in the 1920s. Even though it was never built, it is regarded as one of the greatest works of the Russian Constructivist period. Tatlin’s goal was to make a utilitarian structure based on purely artistic choices, and the design, which references the tower of babel, is a monument to the idea of uniting all people. It is generally argued that the tower is structurally impossible to realise and it has come to symbolise an impossible project, the unicorn or Atlantis of the cultural world. References to the tower have been made in many subsequent works of art such as in the Minimalist artist Dan Flavin’s Monument to V Tatlin series made in the 1960s.
Henry VIII’s Wives’ plan is to build the tower, full size and to the intended specifications, from girders and steel guy wires. They will construct it in small sections, by whatever means possible (subculture, state funding, commercial sponsorship, commodification of the tower itself). The project will continue in various venues and locations around the world until the whole tower exists. The size of each section will be determined by whatever limits it: time, money, space and so on. The group plans to use the project to investigate the cultural and economic systems of the world. The project reflects the group’s desire to have the Tower in the world, both as a physical object and as a metaphor.
The posters are artworks that also function to alert people to the Tatlin’s Tower project, communicating it as a conceptual idea to users of the London Underground. Additionally, they are an artistic investigation into the realm of advertising and propaganda, the poster as a political and economic tool. Publicity generated by the posters will make the realisation of the tower more likely. The web address on the poster is for a site where people can monitor the production of the Tower, and participate by offering useful contacts for other organisations that may be interested in the project.