17 April 2010

Don't Jump Off The Roof!

High up on the Empire State Building a lone figure stands.  Another poor soul prepares to shuffle off their mortal coil by leaping from the ledge.  Or are they?

Anthony Gormley’s latest piece of public art is causing a stir in New York City.  Event Horizon, as it is known, consists of his trademark life-sized figures, thirty one of them in total.  The only problem is that people keep mistaking them for suicide jumpers and call the police.

In some respects you can’t blame those who look up, catch a glimpse of ‘someone’ perched on a ledge and panic.  After all, it is human nature to try and help someone in peril, especially if it only involves notifying the authorities and not actually doing anything else yourself!

However, the NYPD is not terribly amused by Gormley’s latest attempt to provoke thought and discussion.  Since the statues have been erected they have been inundated with calls about the potential jumpers.

Each call has to be investigated and this is wasting a lot of police time.  Ironically, when the installation’s home was the capital of England, London, there were no such calls to the emergency services.

Perhaps that is because the buildings in London are smaller and people could more easily see that these figures are in fact statues.  Or is it that New Yorkers are in such a hurry they don’t look twice but still do the right thing and call the police to report yet another would-be suicide shuffling towards the edge of another tall building?

Just in case you haven't seen one close up, here is one of the Gormley statues with its feet firmly on the ground in Madison Square Garden.