Is the Orbit anything more than a folly on an Olympic scale?

It's the most extravagant example of the idea that a huge, strange object can affect tens of thousands. This could be the point at which the idea stops working

It's dangerous to compare it with the Statue of Liberty. The boosters of ArcelorMittal Orbit, the £19m, 115-metre tower to be built on the London Olympic site, announce it will be taller than New York's great green lady, but it's unlikely to be as eloquent. Is the ArcelorMittal steel company, one wonders, as great a cause to be celebrated as liberty? Well, no, but the aim is that this big red sculpture, by the artist Anish Kapoor and the engineer Cecil Balmond, will do more than glorify its generous sponsor. It is the most extravagant example yet of the idea that a big, strange object can lift tens of thousands of people out of deprivation. This idea has had some successes, but the Orbit could mark the point at which it overreaches itself and we decide to try something different in the future.

According to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the Olympic site "needed something extra, something to distinguish the east London skyline, something to arouse the curiosity and wonder of Londoners and visitors. With £9.3bn going into the Games, we need to do everything we can to regenerate the area and ensure that crowds are still coming here in 2013 and beyond".

The Orbit is therefore to join the ranks of the Angel of the North, the Millennium Dome and the London Eye. Also of the Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the Rotterdam Euromast, the Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower, the Oriental Pearl TV tower in Shanghai and the Unisphere of the 1964 New York World's Fair. Also of the Tower of Juche Idea, Pyongyang, a celebration of the late Kim Il Sung's unique fusion of Korean identity and Marxist-Leninism. The latter, at 170m, is taller than the Orbit and for some reason this is a comparison Johnson chooses not to make.

The Orbit is a landmark, an icon, a thing, a doo-dad, a wotsit. Its aim is to imprint an image on the consciousness of the world, which will also make people want to come to Stratford, east London, even after the Games have gone. It means that, as well as the new Olympic Park, the gigantic new Westfield shopping centre, and whatever might be happening in the ex-Olympic stadium, a great day out in these parts can include a ride to the top of the Orbit. By some associative magic, businesses, investors and housebuyers will want to be there more. This district, whose statistics of deprivation are often repeated, will begin to go up in the world. You might have thought that the Olympic billions were already enough to draw attention to this site, but the Orbit will be the icing on the cake.

It's not wholly fanciful that such landmarks can help lift places. No one can put a figure on jobs created or investments made in Gateshead thanks to the Angel of the North, but it has at least created a feelgood factor and sense of pride. The Bilbao Guggenheim of 1996, still the archetype of such town-boosting, certainly placed a relatively obscure city at the centre of attention.

Buildings can't do it alone and if people find their attention has been drawn only to a wasteland, they will go away again. The Guggenheim worked because there were also dull practical things in Bilbao such as new transport infrastructure and business parks. In this respect, the Orbit is in luck: Stratford, long the example of urban deprivation, has been love-bombed with train lines and parks.

But the most important ingredient of a successful icon is that it works. It has to strike a chord, sound the right note, catch a mood, win hearts and confound sceptics. It must justify the spending of money that might otherwise go on kidney machines or rehousing Haitians. It is a risky business: for every Angel of the North there are many more unloved rotting wrecks that no one has the nerve to demolish.

Here I fear for the Orbit. It's true that Kapoor is a crowd-puller and his recent exhibition at the Royal Academy drew unprecedented numbers for a one-man show by a living artist. But his Olympic monument seems to lack the pith and succinctness with which he usually engages people. His temporary Tarantantara of 1999 (another jewel of Gateshead) was a wonderfully direct construction of two giant funnels that created striking optical effects. His Marsyas in Tate Modern did something similar. Next to these, the Orbit looks ponderous and confused. Its basic concept seems simple, of making a giant structure that is something like a loop of string arrested in mid-fall, but this simplicity is compromised by the stairs and lifts needed to get people into it.

During the two-and-a-bit weeks of the Olympics, it will be animated by crowds descending its stairs, but it's hard to imagine this ever happening again, least of all in the damp east London Februaries of the future. The main thrill it offers is of a view slightly better than that enjoyed by residents of nearby tower blocks and less good than that of bankers in the towers in Canary Wharf. This doesn't seem enough to justify such an effortful work or the maintenance costs.

It's hard to see what the big idea is, beyond the idea of making something big, and the official blurbs don't add much light. These are full of words such as "wonderful", "incredible", "spectacular" and much-repeated "greats". There is some 24-carat guff. The work is variously said to be like "an electron cloud moving" and to have "this sense of energy, twist and excitement that one associates with the human body as it explodes off the blocks down the 100m straight".

Johnson also references his kids, in an ominous echo of Blair's belief that the Millennium Dome could be justified by the pleasure it would give young Euan. As with the Dome, it seems that grandiosity has caused a group of smart people, including Johnson, Kapoor and Balmond, to do something dumb. They all laughed, of course, when Christopher Columbus told them that the world was round and it's possible that in two-and-a-bit years we sceptics will be humbled by the joy and majesty of the Orbit. Right now, it threatens to be an urban lava lamp. It might look fun on 25 December, but by the 27th you're cursing the need to change its bulbs. So what else could be done with this creative energy and £19m?

It could have gone into beautifying those parts of Stratford where people live. It could ensure that the aquatic centre and other Olympic venues have enough money to keep running after the Games. It could have paid for uplifting places as needy as Stratford, but without its celebrity. It could have helped in making the safety-first architecture of the Olympic buildings a little less boring, so there would have been no need for another injection of excitement. But these would have been less good advertising for ArcelorMittal and you couldn't have compared them to the Statue of Liberty.

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  • LSEscientist LSEscientist

    4 Apr 2010, 12:37AM

    We are sleep walking in a state of denial. No suicide bomber cells have crept in and now lying low. No terrorist would want to turn London 2012 into bloody carnage. We are believing the PR that it is all going to be a wonder celebration well remembered. 9/11 never happened. Iraq and Afghanistan and dead soldiers happened in a different world.

    Well wake up. The world is full of those with a score to settle with the UK and for them 27 July 2012 is a once in a century gift they are not going to miss. No security can stop determined murders--are we going to airport security like check everyone that goes down the Tube?

    The wise would cancel this wasteful idiocy before it turns out like the 1972 Summer Olympics.

  • bomelli bomelli

    4 Apr 2010, 1:29AM

    No-one needs the Olympics. Except a tiny number of sports jocks.

    Britain should have spent the money on things needed by communities, and not this pile of sport-jock shit.

    This tower symbolises the sport-obsessed wank with which Britain's obsessed.

  • boristhegreat boristhegreat

    4 Apr 2010, 2:59AM

    For a truly British Olympics we need this kind of architectural disaster. We specialise in them. No one in the world does them better.

    For me it wouldn't be a British Olympics without something to wince at every time I saw it because, let's be honest, weren't you just waiting for the announcement of some grandiose eyesore before we heard about this one? And we haven't even seen the opening ceremony yet! Looking forward to that one! I'm wincing in anticipation.....

    That said, I know it will be a great Olympics in spite of grand mistakes like this tower. The Olympics is about the sport at the end of the day and we are a sport loving nation. I can't wait!

  • eggwood eggwood

    4 Apr 2010, 3:18AM

    Can I just mention prolapsed uterus again?

    This will be a disaster...if this ends up at 19M we'll be very lucky. This is 50M project at the very least: London Eye cost 75M in 1999. Someone would have to end up covering the cost of this; it wont be Mittal, and it wont be the taxpayer (unless Boris really pulls as fast one, and watching him stumble in his floppy-haired way to say anything vaguely positive about the project at the launch was truly pathetic), so my money is not getting built, at least in it's current form.

    Which is fine by me, but then we'd have wasted 19M.

  • eggwood eggwood

    4 Apr 2010, 3:24AM

    It's s**t Rowan, and everyone knows it (including the artist) and thanks for saying so. Looking at the selection committee for the project, that takes some balls to come out a say it; though I'd be looking for a campaign to get the thing stopped. How about leading that for us all?

    Maintenance costs will be its downfall...and I haven't seen that covered in any of the Freud PR. .

  • HowardBlunt HowardBlunt

    4 Apr 2010, 3:54AM

    It's ugly and stupid looking.

    Hardly elegant, or even remotely nice looking. The only thing interesting about it is how it managed not to be tossed as an idea before the first sketch was finished.

    Looks like it has been bought into by people who want to seem to be artistic and wise but are really just victims of Archi-babble.

    There's always re-cycling, so I guess there's still some hope.

  • LJP90 LJP90

    4 Apr 2010, 4:07AM

    I disagree with every miserable comment on here. Questioning where tax payers money is going is one thing, but I detest the nasty, doomsday agenda the minority but loudest people have against the Olympics.

    @bomeli, eggwood etc.
    Sport is one of the few things which brings people and communities together. Not everything is PR, the Orbit is an attempt to symbolise the good which sport brings to the nation and world.

  • blottoinbondi blottoinbondi

    4 Apr 2010, 5:08AM

    I don't think it's big enough. Perhaps if it was three times the size - bigger than the Eiffel Tower - it might be truly noticeable. We made the same mistake with the Sydney Opera House. It just needed to be bigger.

    As for the Olympics. You will never know the cost. It will be concealed by double talk, smoke and mirrors. The same thing happened with the Sydney Olympics. It was a great success, but, for some strange reason, New South Wales now has no money for hospitals, schools, public services, transport initiatives and infrastructure, the Arts or the non-profit sector.

  • allabouttactics allabouttactics

    4 Apr 2010, 6:30AM

    i quite like the tower myself

    i do agree about the olympics being rubbish. i can see why it appealed to china to show the country wants to be on the world stage etc

    i think the same could be said for when korea and spain had the olympics, showing that they had emerged from poverty and in koreas case dictatorship

    i don't see why london needs it since it's already one of the most famous cities in the world

  • mitchellkiwi mitchellkiwi

    4 Apr 2010, 6:51AM

    I utterly despise these shallow, ridiculous, utilitarian articles of social conscience. What an awful load of false consciousness, pretending to care about the poor of Stratford!

    I have an American work associate, who is a chemist and understands nothing about aesthetics, beauty and art and comes out with the most childish remarks about modern art (a 5 year old could have done that, etc.). Everything is down to utility for him, so, as a scientist, he buys plants that will oxygenate his bedroom at night, not because they might look beautiful or have a fragrant perfume. And really, wouldn't it be better to spend my money on plants that are going to sustain my health while I am sleeping rather than a bouquet of roses for my wife, which will only die anyway?

    Utility, efficiency and capitalism go well hand in hand. How shameful that we are still under the spell of that effete Victorian liberal thinker, J. S. Mill, (I refuse to call him a philosopher). All the parliamentarians of the day used to bow down to him whenever he spoke in the House, since he was so clever and obviously such a nice person, so worried was he about the 'general good', or the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

    When it comes to art and beauty, Rowan Moore expresses that same anxiety that all the ignorant express. The problem is, no one knows what these words mean. Moreover, what is art and what is beauty is certainly NOT a matter of personal opinion.

    So, Rowan, leave it up to the experts. Fortunately, so it seems, there's some rich bloke who's going to pay for it, so hey, let's not complain too much. Anthony Gromey's works adorn the countryside, the beach near Liverpool, city centres, townsquares and street corners everywhere and always lift the spirit.

    The Dome, was never art, but gigantic functionality, intended to house New Labour's Grand Exhibition, which was crass and awful, and itself has turned into a white elephant. The same cannot be said about the Orbit tower, since it has no function whatsoever apart from just being itself, standing there. And who cares about the view? If its function, if the point was to climb it in order to see something more beautiful than itself, then fine, it might be in the wrong place. But, knowing Anish Kapoor, it will certainly be an exciting and interesting structure to explore.

    Whether it will attract the crowds Boris suggests, after the Olympics, is a separate issue and again to do with notions of utility and functionality, but the same worries can be levelled against the entire Olympic project: will any of the stadia, swimming pools, hotels, facilities etc, which have been designed for function serve any useful purpose after the event? A much more serious charge than that levelled against the Orbit, which is not intended to have any use at all.

    What a waste of money was the Eiffel Tower! To think that the money spent on that would have kept the poor of Paris eating brioche every Sunday for the rest of their lives!

    Just volunteer to work in a soup kitchen, Rowan. It'll help you to maintain that opaque screen of false consciousness.

  • walnut walnut

    4 Apr 2010, 8:26AM

    'Sport is one of the few things which brings people and communities together'

    That old chesnut. I'm not having a pop at you, LJP90, I know what you're saying. But let's turn it about and think about from the point of view of those who weren't ever particularly good at sport - self included. Sport has an almost unassailable and unquestionable reputation for being 'good' because of our fixation with physical health as the end all, be all of life. Jocularity becomes synonmous with a kind of uniform and unthinking gregariousness, and that too is valued socially. But for those who associate sport with exclusion, elitism and aggression, sport doesn't really bring 'people and communities' together unless they're like minded. In a high school of X hundred, how many athletes are there? What money is thrown at them that could benefit the education of everyone else? What credit and status are they accorded for winning a game relative to the kid who performs well academically? How many kids are bullied for not being sporty, and never given the chance to play because they aren't 'good' - a Catch 22 situation, because practice is the only thing that might help - and then doubly bullied for it? Insofar as the Orbit is taking money away from other aims in the interest of sport; appeals to the minority rather than the majority; and does so under the guise of uniting people, it's a perfect symbol of the Olympics and sport in general. For the outsider, anyhow. I can't think of another hobby - for really that's what it is - that would receive such gross national sponsorship and funding.

    Beyond that there's empty jingoism by supporting the Red team and not the Green team to define yourself, desperately, as beloning to a part of a 'community'. Professional sport puts an emphasis on that one-in-a-million chance you'll be good enough at kicking a ball to make a career and a fortune in doing so. It must be worse for Olympic athletes, who realistically have 3 pops in 12 years to make a splash, dependent on funding to exercise all day and looking forward to a life of touring schools with a Bronze medal and encouraging other kids to do the same rather than be like normal people and get a good education and a job. Oh and the nationalist preening that seems to be one's right in hosting the Games, not too different from the boasting and unthinking rah-rah-rahing of one's team in sport. If that's 'bringing people together' I'd rather be an island even unto myself.

  • stephenmj stephenmj

    4 Apr 2010, 8:28AM

    Zhao Yong
    Rowan Moore is right to be cautious but the Olympics and London's regeneration needed something. If it is used for the backdrop to interviews during the Olympics and becomes the Olympics/regeneration icon in a way that the planned Olympic buildings might not it will be well worth the effort. In a world where icons are increasingly digital those icons that give a sense of physical place are few and to establish a new one will give us a brand that money can't buy that keeps going year in year out. London eye was a bit of luck really linked to the millennium celebrations (and also with a prominent private sector role). The London Eye has probably had the same iconic impact for promoting London than the more expensive dome -which did not lack iconic building status- it is just more difficult for buildings to do this, especially if they are not skyscrapers in scale.
    We get an opportunity- not to be repeated- during the Olympics to pull this off again. The fact that it is an interactive sculpture one can climb and have a meal in puts it in a different category to the Angel of the North. My only suggestion is that at 400 feet maybe it could have been taller. More power to Kapoor and Arups. Well done.

  • Namokel Namokel

    4 Apr 2010, 9:19AM

    I like it.

    A formidable piece of art for the British Olympics and for all the world to see: truly reflecting the unbelievably twisted mess that Britain has become under the care of NuLabour.

    Only a genious could have designed a piece to express so clearly what has happened to the country.


  • blinkyblinkyblinky blinkyblinkyblinky

    4 Apr 2010, 9:21AM

    With £9.3bn going into the Games, we need to do everything we can to regenerate the area and ensure that crowds are still coming here in 2013 and beyond".

    I think that's perfectly reasonable. I also think the Orbit is going to look fantastic in the flesh.

    And as for LSEscientist's first post along the lines of "let's cancel the games because the terrorists might use it as a target", if we think like that we might as well just stay in our homes and huddle round the fire in fear in case the terrorists do something nasty if we venture out.

  • andreakkk andreakkk

    4 Apr 2010, 9:34AM

    I'm getting sick of the way the Olympics and other sports events are bulldozing democracy. People being thrown out of their houses in Stratford to make way for the Olympics. Old neighbourhoods of Beijing erased after hundreds of years. South Africans being put in prison-like camps to get them out of the way of the footie World Cup. All in the pursuit of what exactly? Sporting excellence, or the chance for Coke or Pepsi, Big Mac or Burger King to advertise their wares and cut out their rivals?

    I really wish we could put a stop to this wretched sporting gigantism. Meanwhile let's ask - what chances are there for kids in Stratford, Hackney, Whitechapel to play sport at a level that means something to them? Bugger winning a medal, I never will, but one of the things I'm most grateful for in my life is the fact that my school took me orienteering at weekends - I learned to run, read a map, and enjoy being outside, and that's something that's lasted me well over 30 years so far. What do normal kids, not 'potential medal winners' but just ordinary children in the area, have to look forward to from the Olympics?

    Let's reclaim sport for ordinary people. Time to close down the Olympics. They no longer stand for sport, teamwork, or happiness - they stand for corporatism, gigantism, and inhumanity.

  • Akula971 Akula971

    4 Apr 2010, 9:38AM

    The Angel of the North creates a feelgood factor? a sense of pride? What are you smoking? We here in the North East have a sense of pride, without some arty farty rusty steel monstrosity. It creates jobs? yeah right. Businesses create jobs. For your information it is still mostly despised as a waste of money.

    The Olympic games should have a permanent home in Greece, but they won't do that because too many are already on the corporate American gravy train. Why do we need this 4 year travelling circus, "To create jobs and investment in the East End" What utter bollo**s . You want to bring the East End up? Create the conditions for industry and commerce to thrive, which a big sports stadium and a "red hupa joop" certainly will not do.

    For years to come it will be a constant reminder of the folly of politicians, perhaps to be renamed "Boris's confusion" So for years to come, every time the poor and down trodden of the East End look up, they will see a big "F*** You" no matter where they are in the east end.

  • Oldtymer Oldtymer

    4 Apr 2010, 9:45AM

    The connection between the Olympics and Sport has long vanished. It is now an obscene mega money making venture, sucking the life out of the countries it infects, and presenting us wi6h drug fuelled cheats and money grabbers as heroes. As for encouraging a healthy lifestyle, all it encourages is couch potatoes to lie on their settees for the duration with their diet of beer and transfats in their delivered fast food, the very antitheses of sporting ideals. Its time all countries got together andf proscribed this travesty of sport.

  • JonReades JonReades

    4 Apr 2010, 10:04AM

    Oh great, now I'll have one more ugly thing to look at on my morning run up and down the Lea. OK, I'd be willing to grant that it might surprise me in the short term, but I find it rather more difficult to imagine that that thing will age gracefully. I think all architects/models should be required to show what their building/thing will look like after 20 years of rain, pollution, and corrosion. If it still looks passable *then*, then we'd be on to a winner.

    Of course, if we took the long term view then probably 9/10ths of the stuff that gets submitted for review would never make it to the build stage. Has anyone seen the International Broadcast Centre? It looks like an airport hangar with all of the charm that air travel these days implies. Oh, and the first building at the North end of the site is almost certainly... a multi-story parking lot.

    These Games will say a great deal about Britain, it's just that most of it won't be very flattering. And we probably could have learned as much about regeneration for about £400 by sending everyone to a development control meeting and spending the other £9.39 billion on fixing the planning system.

  • Bluejil Bluejil

    4 Apr 2010, 10:15AM

    I have yet to hear about the stairs or elevators for those that can't walk up? What happens when you get to the top? A cafe? That would make it worth while. The London Eye is hideous. And expensive. How many will be able to see or participate in the Olympics? Again, too much for the average person.

    So who does all this benefit exactly? I'm thinking egos benefit, that of the mayor and the artist.

    I prefer parks, playgrounds for children, water fountains or sculptures, call me old fashioned but I prefer things that are free and I don't have to wait in another bloody que and pay a fortune for.

  • maxsceptic1 maxsceptic1

    4 Apr 2010, 10:17AM

    The worse aspect of this lump of 'art' is that it was selected by an unaccountable cliche of the Brit-art's 'good and great', none of whom (I assume) live close to the location of this piece of rubbish, and will therefore not have to live with the consequences.

    If I lived nearby, I would be motivated to learn the black arts of explosives and demolition.

  • Brynus Brynus

    4 Apr 2010, 10:18AM

    Since it's Boris' responsibility, nay his monument, why not call it the Inverted Pyramid of Piffle? Perhaps that is the one good thing to come out of all this, that Boris' name will forever be associated with it.

  • apolloman apolloman

    4 Apr 2010, 10:25AM

    Having read most of the comments...there is little left I can say. The British seem to have a penchant for spending fortunes on heaps from nonsense rubbish reflecting the equally nonsensical imagination of modern-artists who don't fool me one bit into believing their creations are art. Why not just reproduce and enormous replica of Tracy Emin's 'Unmade Bed' for the world community to gag at the sight of? Yes, another 'Millennium Dome' which I hope never sees the light of day. Use the steel on something more constructive (no pun).

  • Jamie24 Jamie24

    4 Apr 2010, 10:31AM

    Everyone has to give an instant verdict, because that is what the modern media is all about. And criticism can never be moderate, equivocal. It has to pack a punch, especially if the punch is below the belt. Yesterday Dominic Lawson described the tower in The Times as the worst design. Ever. Well, clearly it's not, and to me such a hyperbolic rant is actually boring to read - angry little people falling over themselves to appear more critical, using more extreme language, than their fellow critics.

    But why not just 'wait and see'. I know - no one wants to wait and see these days. Such an attitude simply doesn't fill the column inches. And no doubt those who hate the tower now may still hate it when it's built, either because they truly do hate it or because they are too stubborn to change their minds. But there will be others who will vote with their feet and climb the steps or take the lifts up this structure, and they will decide how successful it is.

    As regards the 'moral' comparison with the Statue of Liberty. That is slightly misplaced. It was given as a gift by the French to the Americans pre-French Revolution by a French King who didn't give a fiddler's cuss about liberty in his own country ('L'état, c'est moi - as his more illustrious forebear once said). And it preceded by a hundred years or more any true freedom for American blacks. So yes, the Statue of Liberty may have acquired a heady symbolism that so far the London Olympic structure cannot possibly (yet) have, but let's look at what the symbolism covers up.

  • nemo04 nemo04

    4 Apr 2010, 10:31AM

    After the olympics the Orbit should be relocated to Alton Towers theme park. Alternatively, given Kapoor's latest exhibition, they should cover it in red wax and then you'd have the world's largest turd!

  • EuropeanOnion EuropeanOnion

    4 Apr 2010, 10:46AM

    White horses, massive angels, huge asymmetric structures, they are totems, they appeal to some sort of paganism in us. For economic regions to adopt such things is to appeal to the natural antiseptic in man; it's the challenge, the fear, it is skulls marking boundaries and the primitivism of the gamekeeper impaling his kills on the barbed wire fence. They are the signs of insecurity and an appeal to the sprites in the marsh and things that go bump in the night. What better way to sublimate your anxiety than to have a massive structure inside which you can hide.

    For all their immensity, and apparent chutzpah, these edifices really display the timidity that resides within us. Rather than portraying strength we see the complete antithesis, a fear of being ourselves. It is atypically anti-Christian, for whereas, formerly, we could raise our aspirations to the deity for approval we are now come to the point where we believe that mere front is sufficient to order events. We are never as weak as when we are so bold. We only have to look at Long Man to know in our heart of hearts that we are telling those across the valley that our manhood is bigger than theirs and therefore ?don't bugger with us, mate?. Meanwhile, in hovels, in the incubating habitats of ancient minds, the single hoot of an owl could send paroxysms of fear through the tribe.

    There has been a history of giant statuary and a visit to the Accademia in Florence will acquaint us with a thundering great example of the genre. David was meant to be atop a cathedral and his perspective, distorted to make him seem proportionate from well below, attests to this. David was big for a purpose and not done so to intimidate or to talk up his prowess.

    The large statue or installation is now nothing but a vehicle for business and bureaucratic messaging, an extension of corporate self-perception and the legitimacy of change by those with access to money, it says nothing of taste or finesse for these ideas are beyond the faculties of people who think in terms of the big project and the big budget. Only big icons can comply with such mindsets. They are the suggestible ones to whom chancers like Anish can sell a concept rather than allow talent to speak for itself. Perhaps Anish will allow visitors to Orbit to fire paint or plastic projectiles at it to make for a happening, to make the public feel that they have access to his creation, feel part of the evolutionary process.

    How vacuous of spirit it all ends up being. Anyone who has done any pot throwing work will know that incorrect preparation and bad technique can lead to this sort collapsed shape. It shouts anti-art at us by its very fibre. It does not so much stare back at you from any angle or have a continuity of form and symmetry that appeals to our finesse and wonder but bludgeons its way into the scene like those creatures in War of the Worlds. We are meant to fear the awesome power of those that would give us this supposed spectacle, Kubla Khan would have been appreciative of the treatment

    But it is the sheer effrontery of this incision into our lives that we should be most obdurate, most angry about. It is the unavoidability of this form of reasoning and this philosophy that is so gruesome. It is having to swallow this unsubtle and invasive mind-set that so subordinates us to those behind such heavy dealing. We are no longer allowed to censure or avoid such heavy-handed grimness. There is no exhibition or confines that we are asked to move toward or would choose to avoid. It is that proclamation that Nazi art or Soviet art made that does not inform us of proportion or intimacy or skill or originality, it is a barrier between us and reason and its size alone makes it immutable. Propaganda.

    The Orbit will take its place alongside a football pitch in a forest, a portion of an island transported to England, a ten-metre high puppet of Lady Godiva, and three 30 foot high crocheted lions. They all look like the three hundred foot high ginger bread man crashing its way through the metropolis and fulfil a similar purpose as they crush the sensibilities. It is not a statement that art should not belong to the elites, which is so overworked. Yes, in the past, artists relied on patrons for existence, but this new patronage is in your name but not consensual.

    If the Olympic Committee is so bereft of ideas then here is a suggestion. Forget these fickle work (I almost wrote faecal); I have a suggestion that will promote a connection between the people in general and the workings of the Olympic Movement. I can provide a legacy of the footprint of the Olympics that will benefit everyone cheaply and of far more use that what is being contemplated: allow the works that are currently stored in vast dungeons under our major galleries to be distributed freely about Britain. That the Delaroche, Lady Jane, could have stayed hidden for so long while Anish Kapoor doodles is a national disgrace.

  • calmeilles calmeilles

    4 Apr 2010, 10:48AM

    Would this have been permitted if the proposed site had been overlooking the Olympic Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards Parade?


    So why must Stratford be cursed with the thing?

  • banzaibee banzaibee

    4 Apr 2010, 11:05AM

    European Onion

    allow the works that are currently stored in vast dungeons under our major galleries to be distributed freely about Britain.

    1. Write to said galleries.
    2. Request to see said works in the flesh, with a reasonable reason ("research" works).
    3. Wait a reasonable amount of time.
    4. Go and see said work under supervision.

    The second you distribute the stuff around the country it will be nicked and damaged. Freely? Who pays for the display cases (secure ones cost up to 5000 each), who pays for the security? Who pays for the environmental controls to prevent mould growing on them (75% relative humity and above: thats pretty much everywhere), who prevents the stuff getting nuked with UV radiation or excessive light levels? Who prevents.... you get the idea. Your desire to share art "freely" has a cost, and unsuprisingly you are expressing exactly the vacuous me-generation consume-now demands that you seem to rail against. Science and Art is the best of us, and Art needs to be preserved as it is far more vulnerable (art is unique creation of peopl; newtons laws of motion are not unique), and guess what, some of that means preserved from you.

    The advantage of public art is it is exactly the type fo challenging accessible work that is open to all to see. The downside is so much of it is appalling. Where this sits, well, it reminds me of the singularity machine from the film Contact, so I am not impressed.

  • lefktra lefktra

    4 Apr 2010, 11:22AM

    One of the more endearing characteristics of the British is how very much they enjoy spoiling someone else's party. The British media waged relentless racist attacks against the Athens Olympics which turned out to be one of the best, and best-organised, games ever. Individual Brits have already started, and it's just a matter of time before the media turns against the very idea of the Games, hoping to make them, "the last Games ever."

  • jcf2405 jcf2405

    4 Apr 2010, 11:26AM

    They should make it more functional: put some restaurants up there, conference centres and media facilities too.

    That would make it even more reminiscent of another futile gesture by those who mistakenly thought they had inherited the future

    Like the Bolsheviks in 1917, gestures are about all we've got left.

  • mikebernstein mikebernstein

    4 Apr 2010, 11:39AM

    The Orbit will be a fine piece of contemporary sculpture. I like the dramatic way it reflects an understanding of a new and very significant insight into our understanding of the physical universe.
    The article refers to it being ???something like a loop of string arrested in mid-fall?.?. It is in this that its relevance lies.
    I think Anish Kapoor has been influenced by our understanding of new and exciting ideas coming from the work being done at the LHC collider in Geneva. The creation of our universe out of the chaos generated by the energy of the first few moments of the Big Bang. This sculpture does invoke an understanding of this dramatic event by reflecting ideas such as String Theory that is coming from those epoch-making experiments in Geneva.

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