A walk across the rooftops?

Posted by on May 29, 2007 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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102469 Pics c/o Jim Dyson/Getty Image/Guardianonline

No, not the fabled debut album from Paul B and the legendary art-rock combo Blue Nile but Anthony Gormley’s own work publicising his big new show at the Hayward.

I’ve long thought AG is one of the UK’s most interesting artists and now I think I know why. His 31 casts of his own body that sit on rooftops across the capital – silent, brooding, failing to acknowledge either us or each other – are not just surprising and confusing (the emergency services have had to field a number of calls about streakers and suicide victims allegedly); nor are they really much to do with the artist himself (the egomaniac challenge to much of his work). No, they’re much MUCH more.

His works are first and foremost about human bodies – indeed, they are just human bodies or casts thereof. The bodies stand in landscapes and spaces without explanation or excuse. They make us think about people and our relationships to each other, how alone, isolated and unnatural we all are in our modern urban lives (the kind of lives that gets touched by public art). As the artist puts it about the skyline project:

“The idea was to somehow introduce these life-sized figures into the topography of London as if it were a natural landscape, as if it were mountains against the sky. I just wanted to recognise that now, it’s said, that over 50% of the human population on this planet now live within the city…a totally constructed humanly made environment and what that means.”

I know it’s kind of uncool to like Gormley (given he won the Turner ages ago and is into big popular public statuary…) but I don’t care. I love his work from the merseyside beach installation to the Angel of the North.

Oh, and I also happen to think this “event horizon” exhibit is the best ad campaign London’s seen this year. For those of you out there who’ve been paying attention, I know the statues don’t say anything at all. Indeed, it’s kind of important that this campaign doesn’t say anything in the way that other ads can’t stop themselves saying stuff: this just is and it achieves its effect that way.

Go check the show out. It runs til August 19th.

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4 Comments

  1. Roy Bayfield
    May 31, 2007

    Having encountered them in the [metal] flesh at Crosby, it’s odd seeing them in another setting – it’s like they’ve gone on holiday to London. I find them impressive and somewhat eery, and like the way they define the massive spaces they live in with their standing and gazing. I also think the customisation of the beach-based ones by other hands (hats, clothes, graffiti) is nice. Didn’t realise Gormley was uncool. He taught at my art college sporting a pair of sky blue trousers – perhaps his lack of credibility stems from that 🙂

  2. kevin
    June 1, 2007

    totally agree with commments about AG and his work; really simple, accessible work at one level but very profound too and tackling big topics
    like the whole green thing
    will go to the show
    (do you have to bring your own ladder?)

  3. kevin
    June 1, 2007

    totally agree with comments about AG and his work; really simple, accessible work at one level but very profound too and tackling big topics
    like the whole green thing
    will go to the show
    (do you have to bring your own ladder?)

  4. Clive Birnie
    June 4, 2007

    Like you I am an AG fan. I have a customer nr the Angel of The North and everytime I visit them I also vist the Angel.