The Anchoress ponders a new sculpture by Antony Gormley called “Event Horizon,” which has appeared as street art in New York City. It features:
…a naked fiberglass-and-metal naked man at random spots in the city.
From March 26 to August 15, New Yorkers will be encountering this form—made from body casts of the artist—amid their daily meanderings. As morning fog lifts, his eerie-but-beautiful silhouette will be visible. Those texting as they walk may bang into him. Visually tracking a pigeon in flight, he’ll be encountered on a rooftop.
The Anchoress is a contemplative sort, and she muses on the different meanings the viewer might project onto the sculpture:
Some will find reassurance in it: as if appearance of eerie, random naked men are exactly suited to the day, when it seems anything at all can happen.
Some will see these forms and think, “angels watching.” Or even, “herald angels.” And feel reassured.
The paranoid will see them and think: big brother. He’s everywhere and he’s watching.
Some believers will see an advance team: harbingers of the Second Coming.
The race-fixated will see a statement about the melding of melanin in humanity.
The cynics will think: humanity has become form without purpose.
Good art provokes and gets you thinking, and I believe Gormley’s exhibit is going to shake to wakefulness a city that has lately been lulled into a sort of drugged slumber: Here is man, in your midst: what does he mean to you?
I’m not sure what I’d see in this installment of the “eerie, random, naked” man on the roof if I saw it in person:
But what comes to my mind from the photo is a classical reference (hey, I’m funny that way) from my studies of art history: the Kouros figure, an ancient form of early Greek art. Here’s a typical one (there isn’t all that much variation within the genre):
So to me the reference is to the muted (and perhaps dying—Kouros figures were often used in funerary art) influence of classical thought and art in our lives.
Or perhaps to their revival. Who knows what the future has in store?
One of my favorite pieces of New York street sculpture (technically, two) was by Julian Opie, and it (they) appeared in downtown Manhattan at Chambers Street, on the steps of the old Tweed Courthouse (named, by the way, for the famously corrupt Boss Tweed). When I saw it in person, my reaction was wondrous delight:
The work was installed in October of 2004 and visible for only a year; so alas, if you go there looking for it now you will no longer see it. Not everyone liked it at the time. Most of the people interviewed for this article were of the opinion that it was eerie and strange. To me, though, it was magical, and transmitted the idea of movement rather than stasis, activity rather than watchful waiting, playfulness rather than solemnity, light rather than dark. Your mileage may differ.