Hong Kong on edge over art

Hong Kong on edge over art

Spotted those life-size human sculptures around Central yet? Local reaction to a British artist's work hasn't been totally positive…

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The photos have caused mixed reactions.
Photo: Reuters

A new dispute has erupted over Event Horizon, a British artist's installations in Central. One of Antony Gormley's life-size human sculptures was fenced off on Tuesday by the Highways Department, which said the art caused an "obstruction".

Images shared online showed the sculpture - at the junction of Queen's Road Central and Theatre Lane - surrounded by railings, which caused art fans to criticise the department for ruining the work.

A spokesman for the department said a member of the public submitted a complaint, describing the Theatre Lane statue as an "obstruction".

The "Naked Man" sculpture is one of 31 identical works that have appeared at street level and on roofs.

Police say 29 reports have been received since the artworks appeared, as people mistakenly see the rooftop sculptures as suicidal individuals.

Young Post cadet Ethan Joshua McGrath, 16, said the sculptures were insensitive. "The fear and the shock at seeing what looks like a person about to jump could be harmful to someone's mentality," he said. He added that the artworks also obstructed pedestrians around the busy area, and should be fenced off to prevent damage.

"I believe the department's actions did not harm the artwork, and the barrier prevents incidents where the piece could topple over," he said.

YP Junior Reporter Joy Pamnani, 17, agreed the artworks could possibly get in people's way, but that calling them "obstructions" wasn't right. Instead the department "should acknowledge them as art, and choose more suitable locations, such as an art gallery", to avoid confusion or disturbance.

She added that the statues' nudity might be controversial in Hong Kong, where "people are not comfortable with such things in public".

Hong Kong Baptist University student Jessie Pang, 19, said the sculptures didn't look like someone trying to jump off a building, but suggested the artist relocate them somewhere that doesn't obstruct people walking through Central, such as a garden.

The installation will remain in place until May 18.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
HK on edge over art

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