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Antony Gormley installs site-specific piece Horizon Field Hamburg at Deichtorhallen
Antony Gormley HORIZON FIELD HAMBURG, 2012 Steel 355, steel spiral strand cables, stainless steel mesh (safety net), wood floor, screws & PU resin for top surface coating. 206 x 2490 x 4890cm, 60000 Kg Installation view Deichtorhallen Hamburg Photograph by Henning Rogge.

HAMBURG.- Hardly a contemporary artist currently enjoys as popular a reputation as London-based Antony Gormley. Indeed, hardly any other artist succeeds with his oeuvre in including the public in his projects in repeatedly new, artistically radical ways that break with all set contexts and frames. His artworks are designed to cause a real stir and take as their setting such different places as the grand stage of the British Museum, the crypt of a cathedral, contemporary dance
stages, a Norwegian fjord or even Trafalgar Square in the heart of London. Each of Gormley’s projects have captivated a specific, broad audience, usually actively involving them in it. His artistic work has repeatedly integrated entire social groups into the process of making them.

For more than 25 years now Antony Gormley has concerned himself with the human image in sculpture by studying the body as a site of memory and transformation, while using his own body as the subject, tool and material. From 1990 onwards he expanded his enquiry into what makes human existence to include an investigation of the collective body, for example in major installations such as Another Place, Domain Field and Inside Australia, focusing on the relationship between the self and the other.

Antony Gormley’s most recent public work was realized with Kunsthaus Bregenz and entailed a unique landscape project entitled Horizon Field: on show in the Vorarlberg mountains through April 2012. Horizon Field consists of 100 life-size casts of the human body, made in massive cast iron and spread across an area of 150 square kilometers, forming a horizontal line at 2,039 meters above sea-level. The specific placing of the statues results from the artists’ experience locally, as he ascertained that the height in question was quite accessible and yet not trodden in everyday life. It is to date the largest artistic and landscape intervention in Austria.

With his site-specific piece Horizon Field Hamburg the Deichtorhallen has created an impressive symbol on the occasion of documenta 2012. With this expansive installation, British artist Antony Gormley spectacularly emphasizes how we perceive space and movement. The fact that the public can enter the sculpture turns all viewers into an active part of the project; people of all age groups and all cultures meet here and experience art physically as a vehicle for global social exchange. It is safe to assume that this unique project will have a great impact far beyond Hamburg itself and will attract the international art public in particular. Antony Gormley’s projects have repeatedly found a dynamic 21st-century art form for the practice of art. Horizon Field Hamburg can be seen as a free space destined to trigger new artistic stimuli and unleash new discursive forms of action. By architecturally referencing the gallery of the northern Deichtorhalle the project also underscores the original purpose of the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, namely to act as the gateway into the city’s international art scene.

Visitors enter the North Hall of the Deichtorhallen and are confronted by a space of almost 4,000 square meters in which at a height of 7.6 meters a huge flat platform seems to float free like a flying carpet. It is suspended from the hall’s visible steel
roof structure and moves slightly in the horizontal, albeit very slowly and initially almost imperceptibly. The surface is made of highly polished black epoxy resin and reflects both people and the hall like a huge, horizontal mirror.

The space beneath it is in the shadow and resembles an underworld, sparsely illuminated by light at the sides from the ceiling lights. Here, visitors can
tarry and listen to the sounds and steps of invisible persons above them, before in turn going up the steps to the second level. The ground moves with the people on the platform; each visitor’s physical movement influences the others’ movements.

Each visitor has a personal and unique aesthetic and physical experience in that each movement of the body is comprehensively visible in the space. Thus, the “Horizon Field Hamburg” both absorbs and makes use of the movement of the individual and the collective movement of all persons. The installation can be grasped as a horizontal painting stretched taut in the hall and in which the visitor then becomes a figure on a free-floating open surface.

Antony Gormley, otherwise famous for his sculptures that always reference the human body, is entering new terrain with this participatory piece as this work is completely abstract: a platform pure and simple that is first realized as a work that is defined by the space and the visitors’ movements. The intention behind this major project is to create a work in the form of Horizon Field Hamburg that inspires the art scene throughout the city and enduringly strengthens Hamburg as an art center. The project’s international importance is emphasized both in the choice of the globally renowned British artist Antony Gormley but also in the form and content of the piece itself, with defines the artwork as something “without limits”.

Moreover, collaboration is planned with the “empty spaces” performance festival in the context of the International Summer Festival, whereby the large space under the sculpture will be used as a stage and for events.

DEICHTORHALLEN HAMBURG is Europe’s largest exhibition hall for international contemporary art and photography. The two historical buildings dating from 1911-3 stand out for their open steel-and-glass architecture and today provide space for large, spectacular and innovative exhibitions.

The Deichtorhallen have access to two of Germany’s prime private art collections: Since 2005, Haus der Photographie has been home to the F. C. Gundlach photography collection. And in 2011 the Harald Falckenberg Collection was incorporated into the Deichtorhallen as a satellite space in Hamburg’s Harburg district. In this way, the institution’s total exhibition space now comprises about 10,000 square meters.

Programmatically speaking, the Deichtorhallen stand for art that cuts across both borders and limits. Moreover, all exhibitions that the public sees and experiences in the Deichtorhallen are reliable seismographs of our contemporary world.

With its exceptional architecture and its strong reputation well beyond just Hamburg as the art “place to be”, the Deichtorhallen have emerged as a magnet attracting artists from all over the world. In this way, they are also a guarantee for the city’s future perception as an international art metropolis.

In 2011 the Deichtorhallen raised almost 70% of its exhibition budget itself. In previous years, the institution’s close cooperation with sponsors and patrons enthusiastic for art (e.g., Skoda, Allen & Overy, Hugo Boss, Olsen and many others) have generated exhibition projects that were much noted internationally.

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