Antony Gormley's immobile men invade Asian skyline
One of the largest and most ambitious art installations ever to grace Hong Kong is set to be unveiled this month -- but residents won't be required to enter a museum to see it. They just have to look up.
Starting from this week, 31 sculptures of naked, anatomically-correct men appear across a kilometer stretch in the heart of the city. Each are placed within eyesight of one another, with four cast-iron sculptures found at street level and twenty-seven, made of fiberglass and suspended on rooftops.
Collectively, the figures make up "Event Horizon," a work by British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley.
"The idea is to make the built world, somehow the subject of reverie. To think about it imaginatively. To encourage people in some way to shift from a world of obligation and towards dreaming with our eyes open," explains Gormley.
1/13 – "Event Horizon" in Hong Kong
The sculptures are molded after the artist himself -- embodying Gormley's slight hunch and tallish figure.
Each bear subtle variations -- most notably where the breath falls in relationship to the diaphragm.
The installation, which first exhibited in London in 2007, has toured Rotterdam, New York, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro.
But Hong Kong is "more manic and taller" than other host cites says Gormley, with its towering skyline rendering many of the works "photon-sized."
One of the most prominent figures is perched atop the 607-ft (185m) Standard Chartered Bank Building, a skyscraper in Central, Hong Kong's financial district.
If you stop and squint, you can just about make out the slight silhouette, looming ominously down, as if about to jump.
"Many of the buildings in Hong Kong have names of the corporation," says the artist.
"They identify the building as part of the mercantile world. I'm interested in liberating the buildings as shapes. Shapes of landscape.
"My idea is that this is a form of acupuncture. These tiny needles going in and around the collective body of the city -- in order to release an energy that wouldn't otherwise arise."
Hong Kong hosts more public art
Public art is no longer a rare phenomena in Hong Kong. Earlier this year, British artist Richard Wilson installed "Hang On a Minute Lads...I've Got a Great Idea" (2012), that saw a full-sized bus balanced precariously from the roof of The Peninsula Hotel.
Other public-facing efforts by the local government, to position Hong Kong as an international arts hub, have included hosting Art Basel Hong Kong (which in 2016, will mark the fair's 4th edition), and the building of M+, the city's future museum for visual culture.
As the artist behind the city's largest public art installation to-date, Gormley says that his work is intended to initiate a dialogue within the city.
"You have the reality of the buses and trams and people rushing and then you have these tiny, photon-size things, right on the edge of your visual field. But once you recognize it's there, to my perception, which might be skewed, everything changes.
"It maybe makes us look, in places where we don't habitually look, up towards the sky, up towards, that bit, of the built world, that connects with infinite space."
Works mistaken as suicide attempts
"Event Horizon" was first scheduled to appear in Hong Kong in 2014, but was canceled, after an investment banker at JPMorgan jumped to his death from the roof of the US bank's headquarters.
The property was owned by Hongkong land, the original sponsor of the event.
The public was notified ahead of the launch of the six-month exhibition, amid concerns that the statues would be mistaken for suicide attempts, as they have been in other cities.
Video by Stephy Chung, Herbert Chow, Sherman Mak and Phoebe Cheung, Gallery by Zahra Jamshed