Contemporary art Controversies News China

Gormley’s Hong Kong installation cancelled after banker’s suicide

The work, Event Horizon, composed of lifesize figures placed on rooftops, is withdrawn after a request from J.P. Morgan

Concerned New Yorkers called 911 when the sculptures visited in 2010

Hong Kong. The display in Hong Kong of Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon—31 life-sized fibreglass casts of the artist’s body that have been placed on rooftops in cities—has been cancelled after the sponsor withdrew from the show.

The installation was scheduled to coincide with the artist’s first exhibition in the city, which closed last Saturday at White Cube, and was meant to remain on display for several weeks after the gallery show finished. But the US investment bank J.P. Morgan, which has offices in a 30-storey skyscraper in Hong Kong, asked its landlord, Hong Kong Land, which was the sponsor of Event Horizon, to cancel its support for the show after one of the bank’s employees jumped to his death from the roof of J.P. Morgan’s building in the city.

Event Horizon has been seen in London (2007), New York (2010) and São Paulo (2012). In every location, it has prompted numerous phone calls to emergency services by passersby who believed that the fibreglass figures were real people contemplating suicide.

Update, 13 May 2014: Antony Gormley said he still hopes to show the work in the city. "We are still pursuing the possibility of presenting Event Horizon in Hong Kong, one of the major high density cities in the world," the artist says. "Its combination of high-rise buildings in a context of mountains and sea make this an exciting proposition and we will continue to work with interested parties to bring Event Horizon to Hong Kong." White Cube did not respond to emails.

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Comments

14 May 14
18:20 CET

LOUIS TORRES, NEW YORK

Gormley's "sculptures" are not art---which, by definition, selectively recreates reality and reflects the maker's fundamental values. Casts of bodies don't count.

13 May 14
0:19 CET

TEDDIE CHUNG, HONG KONG

No cancel or re-schedule. We should have the courage to face tragedies like that. That is what Art is for.

11 May 14
22:52 CET

MATTHEW SCOTT, IRVINE

Talk about it, Hong Kong! What drove this banker and so many factory workers to jump from roof-tops last year? Art is the axe which breaks the ice-frozen river (and gets censored by corporations and the third-person fallacy, apparently).

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