Event Horizon: Sculpture Installation by Antony Gormley
April 13, 2010 5:06 PM   Subscribe

"Event Horizon1 is meant to encourage viewers to 'reassess their environment and their position in it,' as [Antony] Gormley puts it, due to the sculptures' interruption of their usual surroundings—London,2 in its first installation in 2007, and now New York.3 'There's very little art in these things,' said Gormley of his figures, which he also refers to as 'three-dimensional shadows' and 'indexes.' The sculptures are but copies of his body at a particular time,4 in various poses. Where the 'art' is, then, is in what happens when viewers engage with the figures. 'When you then insert these still industrial fossils into the stream of daily life and real context5 they can begin to be active in the same way that a chemical catalyst ... causes a transformation,' Gormley said. 'I would like to think that's what happening here.'6

1. A description of the installation at its website.
2. "Antony's Army." An article from The Guardian about the 2007 London installation.
3. "Interlopers on the Skyline." The New York Times covers the New York installation.
4. "Body of work." An interview of Gormley by Lynn Barber.a
5. A Google map of the statues that make up Event Horizon.b
6. The text of my post is taken from "Watch that Man" from Art in America.

a. There's also an interview of Gormley by Artinfo specifically about the New York installation.
b. You can see photos of the installation of the first statue at Pentagram's blog.
posted by ocherdraco (20 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
/resists.
/fails.

It's just Hellraiser in space!
posted by Artw at 5:13 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


How many times will people call in "suicide jumpers" because of some of these on the rooftops?
posted by oddman at 5:23 PM on April 13, 2010


I was a mid creepped out by the random people on the edge of buildings myself, when I was walking past Madison Square.
posted by The Whelk at 5:27 PM on April 13, 2010


It's just Hellraiser in space!

Nonsense. It's a Warhammer 40k prequel.
posted by kafziel at 5:36 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's kind of fun to try and find the sculptures. It's sort of a "Where's Gormley?" for the cultural elite.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:55 PM on April 13, 2010


Saw them on Sunday. It's creepy and weird and cool all at the same time. There's a 'hidden in plain sight' element to the sculptures.
posted by double bubble at 6:12 PM on April 13, 2010


I went down to take a look before the installation officially opened and happened to see Gormley himself by the one just over the road from the Flatiron building, as it was being 'planted'. I texted my mum about it--she'd bumped into him at the opening of his installation of 100 figures along a 2-mile stretch of the beach near her house a few years ago. (We also have a 'bumping into Jarvis Cocker' thing in our family.)

This weekend I was in New York again, and passed through Madison Square Park again. I like them, but now that they're all in place I found that there were a few too many on the skyline--they're a bit less interesting (because more obvious, in both senses) than the ones that are somewhere lower down a building, or on the top of some of the more modest buildings. But it still makes for a really good piece of public art--gets you to look around and engage with your surroundings more, and (as one woman who stopped to talk to us said) with other people too, in a way that you normally wouldn't.

Mind you, the ones on the beach by my mum's house are better. I'm not saying that out of local pride: they just have a different, stronger, and harder-to-define effect.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 7:29 PM on April 13, 2010


Your footnote superscript is messing up the leading!
posted by boghead at 8:08 PM on April 13, 2010


I wonder what would happen if people would let perfectly good pieces of art, like these striking sculptures, speak for themselves?

(I don't mean the poster, but artists in general, who feel it necessary to explain every aspect of their art in such detail that it completely demystifies the experience)
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:54 PM on April 13, 2010


but artists in general, who feel it necessary to explain every aspect of their art in such detail that it completely demystifies the experience

I, as someone who likes art but doesn't understand it, appreciate the artist making his creative process a little more transparent. Without it, I'd come across the statues and say to myself "well, this is obviously art, but why?" What is the artist trying to communicate? Did s/he succeed? Was there a reason this statue was put in this particular place and not five feet to the left? Now that my curiosity is satisfied, I can go on enjoying the whimsical, mystical experience of interacting with this art in the middle of the city*.

*The act of "enjoying the whimsical, mystical experience of interacting with this art" includes, but is not limited to, posing for photographs with statues in compromising positions.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:07 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is the artist trying to communicate? Did s/he succeed? Was there a reason this statue was put in this particular place and not five feet to the left?

I hear you there, I just think these questions should be answerable by observing the art - anything less is a failure by the artist to make him or herself understood. The creative process, however, must be explained if it's of interest to you (it almost never is for me).
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:40 AM on April 14, 2010


Thanks for posting this. I've been looking at one of his figures in Oxford for a while now, wondering who he was and where he came from.
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:28 AM on April 14, 2010


Curious the way a few years ago one section of modern art seemed to give itself permission to be unashamedly spectacular and/or entertaining instead of superficially opaque and unrewarding, with Gormley a leading example. Who was it that decided 'fun' was OK now?
posted by Phanx at 1:36 AM on April 14, 2010


(I don't mean the poster, but artists in general, who feel it necessary to explain every aspect of their art in such detail that it completely demystifies the experience)

You've touched on the unfortunate sine quo non of all modernism in art: that it's the theory that informs the practice instead of the opposite. Consequently, many artists start with the explanation, and work backwards, which makes for shit work, in my opinion.

I like Gormley incidentally. Didn't really care for his his forth plinth, performance art nonsense, but as a transplanted New Yorker and artist living in the north of england, have always loved the angel of the north.
posted by Hickeystudio at 1:48 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love looking at the one in Oxford. I can't walk by without looking at it, or being quietly amused by the number of camera-wielding tourist gaggles that shuffle past it and never see it every day. It reminds me constantly that no matter how hard you think you're looking, you're probably missing something a lot of the time. I wonder sometimes how long it would have taken me to notice it if I hadn't been told it was there.

The first time I ever saw The Headington Shark, I was delighted that I'd seen it before someone had told me about it or to go and look at it. It had more impact (as Hickeystudio says) starting with the work and then finding out what it was.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 4:15 AM on April 14, 2010


I've been lucky enough to have a fair share of Gormley in my life.

One of his sculptures was at the top of the stairs of my college library, and he was part of an exhibition in college during the summer of 2009. Some of the many sculptures dotted around the place were on the rooftops, others were lying down in public walkways or in courts. More photos (not mine) - click onwards for the ones I'm referring to.
posted by djgh at 6:05 AM on April 14, 2010


Consequently, many artists start with the explanation, and work backwards, which makes for shit work, in my opinion.

I completely agree. The worst part about it is that most people would regard that working backward approach to be the "correct" way and the opposite as somehow disingenuous.
posted by cmoj at 12:26 PM on April 14, 2010


Where the 'art' is, then, is in what happens when viewers engage with the figures. 'When you then insert these still industrial fossils into the stream of daily life and real context they can begin to be active in the same way that a chemical catalyst ... causes a transformation,' Gormley said. 'I would like to think that's what happening here.'

Blah, blah, blah. It either stands on its own or it doesn't.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:22 PM on April 14, 2010


Blah, blah, blah. It either stands on its own or it doesn't. (Mental Wimp)

But doesn't the existence of art depend upon its viewers engaging with it? Is art still art if no one is looking at it or thinking about it?
posted by ocherdraco at 3:27 PM on April 14, 2010


But doesn't the existence of art depend upon its viewers engaging with it? Is art still art if no one is looking at it or thinking about it?

Yes, but it has little to do with the artist or anyone else bloviating about it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:48 PM on April 14, 2010


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