No, this isn’t about Anish Kapoor being fired out into space… although that’s a development I would also welcome, preferably without a spacesuit or (even better) without a space ship.
I’m talking about the massive sculpture commissioned at vast expense™ for the 2012 London Olympics at Stratford, so it will probably be offending the discerning eye for many years to come. Despite the vast expense™*, it still looks sort of cheap. It’s a giant wireframe octopus trying in vain to open a can of tuna. Or a melted version of Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International. Or one of Tokyo Tower’s feet, all that remains after the rest of it was wrenched off by Godzilla to use as a kind of swatter against annoying jet fighters. Or the kind of non-Euclidean, tentacular fetish idol that one of HP Lovecraft’s squeamish antiquarian characters would glimpse in a nightmare trance vision of Earth in the far future, a world devoid of decency and logic, a world riddled like a rotten apple with the vile, tumorous excrescences of incomprehensible forces utterly inimical to humanity (e.g. Boris Johnson.)
Oh well, at least it’s in keeping with the gargantuan, cuboid, Ballardian vacuity of Westfield shopping mall, and congruent with the hideous, already dated typography in all the Olympic advertising and signage. This latter phenomenon is also a Lovecraftian and/or Ballardian time and/or mind bender. How did they even manage to make something that hasn’t yet happened seem dated, tiresome and overexposed?
The wilful ugliness of ‘Orbit’ sits quite comfortably with the disconcerting Lisa Simpson blowjob logo and the Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville who look like a pair of lubed-up, petrochemical, Cyclopean CG dildos, but whose names sound like notorious aristocratic serial killers or alternatively evoke the kind of hellish Georgian mental institutions where all the patients were chained to the walls day and night.
This is the grim collective face that Britain’s political and corporate elite have chosen to impose on our country when the whole world is looking at it. It’s the fucked up painting of Dorian Gray on full and shameless show here, not the beautiful (albeit duplicitous) Dorian himself. They’re saying: Yes, this is an ugly city and an ugly country, and even our ideas are trifling and tawdry things now. There were a few things we were still good at, but we can’t even do those properly any more. Anyway, forget all that. Check out my one-eyed monster.
*NOTE: Apparently the cost was somewhere in the vicinity of £16 million.