Hong Kong Show of Antony Gormley’s Rooftop Statues Cancelled After Suicide

The British artist's rooftop sculptures won't appear in Hong Kong.

Antony Gormley, Event Horizon, New York, 2010. Photo: courtesy the artist.

British sculptor Antony Gormley‘s Event Horizon, which places 31 life-sized sculptures of the artist teetering at the edges of rooftops, has received mixed reactions around the world. Now, the Art Newspaper reports, a planned installation of the work in Hong Kong has been cancelled after a man jumped to his death from the a building owned by an exhibition sponsor.

Each sculpture is a fiberglass cast of Gormley’s body, which makes the effect quite unsettling when the statues are installed on building roofs. The life-sized figures are so realistic when viewed from street level that concerned pedestrians on both sides of the Atlantic have actually called emergency services to report attempted suicides during earlier iterations of the work.

When Event Horizon took to London’s roofs in 2007, the police were overwhelmed by a bombardment of calls from worried citizens (see Reuters report). In 2010, New York city police took a proactive stance, issuing an official statement alerting residents of the benign nature of the ominous-looking sculptures (also reported by Reuters). The work was also installed in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2008, and São Paulo in 2012.


Installation view of Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon.
Photo: Antony McCallum, via Wikimedia Commons.

In Hong Kong, the statue’s obvious implications hit a little too close to home for J.P. Morgan, which has local offices in a 30-story skyscraper owned by Hong Kong Land, which planned to sponsor the local presentation of Event Horizon. One of the bank’s employees recently killed himself by jumping from the office’s roof, and, at the urging of J.P. Morgan, Hong Kong Land withdrew its funding from the exhibition.

Gormley’s artwork has been in the news of late, thanks to a British supermarket chain that projected an advertisement for a baguette onto his public sculpture The Angel of the North (1998), as artnet News reported last week.

White Cube has yet to announce whether or not it will attempt to reschedule the planned installation of Event Horizon in Hong Kong.

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