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The first ever Fourth Plinth sculpture just went on display at St Paul’s

Written by
Matt Breen

Amid the endless chocolate eggs and tortuous family gatherings, it’s easy to forget that Easter is actually about something, or rather, someone: a kind bloke called Jesus Christ who, despite having a dad in high-up places, had an anti-establishment attitude to life and ended up pissing off the Romans no end. Luckily, artist Mark Wallinger’s life-size sculpture of Christ, ‘Ecce Homo’, has just gone on display on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Graham Lacdao/St Paul’s Cathedral. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © Mark Wallinger.

The statue was the first ever piece commissioned for Trafalgar Square’s empty fourth plinth. It was unveiled there back in July 1999, which – aside from being a time when society propelled the Vengaboys to chart success – was also the run-up to Jesus’s 2000th birthday, which made it a rather timely piece.

Artist Mark Wallinger with his artwork 'Ecce Homo'.
Graham Lacdao/St Paul’s Cathedral. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © Mark Wallinger.

The statue presents Jesus with a decidedly contemporary slant, as the man he (virtually no historian disputes the fact a Judean dissident of this name lived 2000 years ago) surely was: human, mortal and – in wearing a crown made of barbed wire – subject to persecution.

The reinstallation has been done in collaboration with Amnesty International, who hope it will act as a reminder that such things still happen. ‘The story of Christ – arrested, tortured and executed for peacefully expressing his opinions and for challenging the authorities of the time – still resonates around the world today,’ says Kate Allen, the charity’s director. ‘The sculpture is representative of the type of cases that we at Amnesty still work on today – the oppressed individual caused to suffer simply for their beliefs.’

Wallinger’s piece will be watching over the crowds outside St Paul’s until May 22. Find more art to see here

In other art news, you’ll be able to step inside an episode of ‘Black Mirror’ at the Barbican’s sci-fi exhibition.

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