Resistance On The Plinth
A live performance installation by Liz Crow
1-hour live installation as part of Antony Gormley’s One & Other project on the Fourth Plinth
8 August 2009, 10.00-11.00pm, Trafalgar Square
Artist and activist Liz Crow sat on the plinth in a crowded Saturday night Square on her wheelchair wearing full Nazi regalia to draw attention to a hidden history and the message it holds for us all today.
Seventy years ago, the Nazis instituted their first official programme of murder. It targeted disabled people and became the blueprint for the Final Solution to wipe out Jews, gay people, gypsies and other social groups. Today, the development of pre-natal screening and a rush to legal rights for newly disabled people to assisted suicide, show that disabled people’s right to life still needs to be defended. With a rise in hate crime, disabled children still excluded from mainstream schools, and over 340,000 disabled people (more than the population of Cardiff) living in institutions, disabled people still experience those historical values as a daily threat.
Described by Writer Allan Sutherland, “Liz was lifted into place covered in a white shroud. After ten minutes, she pulled off the sheet to reveal the Nazi uniform, and sat motionless, overlooking the Square. Ten minutes later she lifted a flag, bearing the words ‘First they came for the sick, the so-called incurables and I did not speak out – because I was not ill’, taken from an early version of the anti-Nazi theologian Martin Niemoeller’s much-quoted verse.
First they came for the sick, the so-called incurables
And I did not speak out – because I was not ill.
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
And I did not speak out – because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me.
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
Pastor Niemoeller 1946
“She then pulled off the Nazi regalia, throwing away the swastika armband, and took up the flag again. On a summer’s evening, with the flag fluttering in the breeze, the image was reminiscent of Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’.”
Listed in The Guardian’s Trafalgar Top Ten on the plinth, the provocative image stopped people in their tracks. A spokesperson for One & Other said Twitter had “gone ballistic”.
The One & Other project took place in London on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, home to temporary works of art commissioned from leading national and international artists. Sculptor Antony Gormley set out to create a living monument that captures modern Britain. Over the course of 100 days, 2400 participants each spent one hour alone on the empty plinth.