A Man Fell Into Anish Kapoor’s Installation of a Bottomless Pit at a Portugal Museum

Luckily, the pit was only about eight feet deep in reality.

Anish Kapoor, Descent into Limbo, Havana (2016). Photo by Paola Martinez Fiterre, courtesy of Galeria Continua.
Anish Kapoor, Descent Into Limbo, Havana (2016). Photo by Paola Martinez Fiterre, courtesy of Galeria Continua.

Anish Kapoor’s fascination with the void has led him to create some of his best-known works. Now, it has also caused someone to fall into an eight-foot pit. Last week, a 60-year-old Italian man fell into a hole that was part of the artist’s installation Descent Into Limbo at the Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal.

The man was hospitalized following the incident, which took place August 13, according to the local newspaper Público. The work is on view as part of “Anish Kapoor: Works, Thoughts, Experiments,” the artist’s first Portuguese museum survey, where the wall text notes that “the sculpture is an expression of Kapoor’s interests in the formal and metaphoric play between light and darkness, inside and outside, the contained and the infinite, which underpins his sculptural oeuvre.”

Anish Kapoor, <em>Descent into Limbo</em> (1992) at the Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto. Photo by Filipe Braga courtesy of Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

Anish Kapoor, Descent into Limbo (1992) at the Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto. Photo by Filipe Braga courtesy of Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

“An accident happened,” Fernando Rodrigues Pereira, the museum’s press officer, told artnet News in an email. “Now this installation is temporarily closed.” The exhibition had displayed warning signs and a staff member was manning the room when the man fell, as per established security protocols.

“The visitor has already left the hospital and he is recovering well,” Pereira added.

Anish Kapoor, <em>Descent into Limbo</em> (1992), diagrams. Courtesy of Anish Kapoor.

Anish Kapoor, Descent Into Limbo (1992), diagrams. Courtesy of Anish Kapoor.

Visitors enter the installation through a small doorway leading into a freestanding concrete and stucco room, approximately 20 feet square. In the center of the floor is a circular pit, the sides painted black so that it at first appears solid, hiding its true depths. Kapoor designed Descent Into Limbo to appear like an endless chasm in space; looking down into it is a dizzying experience.

A representative of the museum told the Art Newspaper on Friday that there are plans to reopen the installation “in a few days.”

Anish Kapoor, <em>Descent into Limbo</em> (1992) at the Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto. Photo by Filipe Braga courtesy of Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

Anish Kapoor, Descent into Limbo (1992) at the Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto. Photo by Filipe Braga courtesy of Fundação de Serralves, Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

On the artist’s website, the work, which was first created for documenta IX in 1992, is described as a “cubed building with a dark hole in the floor. This is a space full of darkness, not a hole in the ground.” The piece takes its name from a painting by Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna.

“Anish Kapoor: Works, Thoughts, Experiments,” is on view at the Serralves Museum, Rua D. João de Castro, 210, 4150-417, Porto, Portugal,  through January 6, 2019. 


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