Edinburgh 2016: street statues go to the next level

Another August, another Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and some things never change: the Royal Mile packed with Earth’s citizens, bagpipers on street corners, drizzle, rain, a wee bit of sun. Steep steps in dark, narrow alleyways, like veins connecting the city’s heart, organs and soul.

But the only thing that’s constant is change.

11149606_10207752278949760_7438584244928352393_oThe BBC has moved from their cramped quarters at Potterrow to the more verdant and spacious George Heriot School on Lauriston Place. Much better surroundings (and toilets), but a shame the fun photo booth has been sacrificed for a second table tennis table; I understand it was too costly in terms of staff.

Oh well. I was hoping this year I could have been photoshopped onto an amusing tableau of recent bonkfest Versailles (although I suppose it’s not strictly a BBC show. Oh, Strictly, now that would have been good …)

And then there’s the street art. Edinburgh is the trendsetter here. A few years ago, people seemed happy with spray-painted historical figures – oh look, a motionless, silver Elizabeth I – and the odd Star Wars stormtrooper. This evolved into SFX with de-headed, be-suited men, their trilbies floating in the space above shirt and tie (complemented by a smattering of  hovering Yodas here and there).

IMG_3430Last year, heads were back in place but now entire bodies hung in mid air, with bemused onlookers passing their hands under the statue’s feet to check how it’s done. Sometimes the statues talk. Well, shout actually. I recall turning into High Street from South Bridge to be greeted by genitalia; graphically accurate male and female ‘parts’ (let’s call them Willy and Nunny), were in the midst of an amusing gender-themed argument. Nothing half-cock about that display.

2016 has taken things to the next level, literally, with two and even three layers of suspension. I watched one such statue preparing for the big reveal. A small, swathed figure protrudes from a blue cloth under which an elbow-shaped bulge, a knee and a foot occasionally thrust outwards.

The message (if there is one), of this particular tableau intrigued me – was it a comment on the topdown exploitation of workers? Support (or lack of) available to vulnerable families? And the footballs?

It certainly drew large crowds, and the nearby aliens seemed a little disgruntled at the threat to their trade. The hammer-headed alien, who’s been hanging around Edinburgh ever since I can remember, just sat on his stool, not even trying not to move or hover in the Edinburgh air.

To remain ahead in the world of motionless art, best to move with the times.

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