Man/City

by Steve

The Antony Gormley statue Resolution stands on the corner of Shoe Lane and St Bride Street. Upon its unveiling in 2007 the artist explained, “Seen from afar it looks like a man, from close up it looks like a city.”

The statue stands on the edge of a private public space, as in the area is owned by a multinational company, yet has all the appearances of being a public space. You can walk through it, or sit down for a moment, or stop to watch the water features. There are shops and cafes and bars.

Yet the discreet signage and private security remind you that you are only permitted there because the multinational company allows you to be there. And at any moment they can move you on. You are in the City, but also somewhere else.

You have your liberty, but only with their permission. A man while they let you be a man.

That is case everywhere, of course. It is just more obvious here.

The area around the corner of Shoe Lane and St Bride Street is undergoing some major renovations, paving is being dug up and replaced, how the roads and walkways and buildings interact and intersect is being reworked and remodeled.

This is the London I know. Beyond the tourist traps and heritage sites, here is a City in a constant state of change. Forever being torn down and built again.

Every journey I make is stalled or curtailed by this – a metal fence, the reversing of a goods truck, the hand of a workman held up as his colleagues pass, the closed road, the narrowed pavement.

The view obscured by scaffolding, plastic sheets, boards proclaiming “Coming Soon” or “Buy Now”, the words imposed on faces I will never recognise.

The City is never just the City. It is always a work in progress, and the work is always visible, as much the fabric of the City as the bricks and metal and stone.

The Antony Gormley statue Resolution is currently surrounded by barricades and is wrapped in some sort of protective plastic sheeting. In its current state it very much meets the description the artist made back in 2007. “Seen from afar it looks like a man, from close up it looks like a city.”

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