Rarely has the introduction of a work of art struck me as so exactly suited to its times as Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon, whereby we find ourselves encountering 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.
Gormley’s remarks on his work are interesting:
“For me this installation is to try to make the real world a place of reverie . . .Just being able to stop for a moment and see how extraordinary and magnificent and diverse is this world that we’ve built out of inherited earth,” he said. “And I hope they are tiny catalysts for people to look again.”
I think it will certainly have people looking, and thinking about the sort of industry, energy and imagination it took from previous generations, to bring us to this “inherited” point. Especially now, as we are living through truly transformative days, when the notions of “greatness” and “exceptional nations” are being deconstructed, and some are experience a sense of expectations being pared down; of dreams being put away, by executive will.
Erected at a moment in time when many Americans are wandering around in a near-daze at recent events, this exhibit is going to speak to people where they are at.
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.
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?
And what does that meaning say about you?
I can imagine some not liking this exhibit at all. Event Horizon may skirt a memory too close to those cheap sci-fi films of the cold war, with alien beings silently, efficiently taking over the earth, or suddenly emitting death rays from their eyes. In that case, it may refine those early worries about the future.
And some are going to shiver at the very primal sense the statues evoke, of creatureliness and chaos -of Adam and the Last Man.
A friend of mine registered discomfort, this morning; “I don’t like it,” she said. “It makes me feel like a warning is being sounded, that things are about to get out of control.”
I suggested to her that perhaps this is what she takes from the exhibit, because this is what she is feeling, of late. “Maybe so,” she mused. “But these things make me feel like I should be on my guard, like too much is being made new. I have all the new I can stand right now.”
Her feelings struck me as understandable. And art is art: you see what you see and its meaning is subjective.
But I find myself fascinated by these silent sentinels. Are they harbingers of change? Advance warnings? Are they assurances or alarms?
Event Horizon is perfectly named.
And how interesting I find it that we read of this today, the day upon which much of the Christian world ponders the Annunciation -the day an angel told a young Jewess that God wished to enflesh and become man by her consent -which she gave.
And the exhibit closes on a day when that same Christian world considers the death of that same Jewess, Mary, and the lifting up of the body that gave body to the New Adam, and thus assisted in making all things new.
Yeah, I love this exhibit, a lot.
Neoneocon has more thoughts
Related, sort of.