On Saturday 31 July, the hundredth figure by leading British sculptor, Antony Gormley was lowered into place by helicopter to launch the artists unique installation, Horizon Field, in the mountains of Vorarlberg in Austria, presented in association with the Kunsthaus Bregenz
Horizon Field features 100 life-size cast iron figures installed over an area of 150 square kilometres. It is the first art project of its kind in the mountains and the largest landscape intervention in Austria to date. The works will remain in the Alps for two years during which time they will be exposed to the elements, to different lighting conditions, and to the changing seasons, thus enabling constantly new perceptions and impressions.
The figures form a horizontal line 2,039 meters above sea level. They are mounted at intervals ranging from sixty meters to several kilometres, depending on the topography, looking in all directions but never facing each other. Some of the figures are installed in places one can hike to or ski past in the winter. Others are visible only from certain vantage points.
According to the artist, Horizon Field asks: Where does the human project fit within the evolution of life on this planet? The works form a field in which living bodies and active minds are involved in measuring the space and distance thought he field of these static iron bodies, and of course both skiers and hikers will be part of this. This installation recognises the deep connection between social and geological territory, between the landscape and memory.
The Kunsthaus Bregenzs Projects in the Field
In the 13 years since its inception the Kunsthaus Bregenz has established itself as one of the leading exhibition halls for contemporary art. With its exhibitions and projects it addresses current challenges in the international art scene. Moreover, its work and especially its projects in Vorarlberg contribute strongly to promoting the cultural identity of the region.
Former field projects in Vorarlberg included Amish Kapoor (2003), Kenny Holzer (2004), Janet Cardiff (2005), and Michael Craig-Martin (2006) in the Johanniterkirche in Feldkirch, as well as Gottfried Bechtolds work at the Silvretta Dam Signataur 02 which the KUB has since purchased for its collection, and the xenon projections by the American artist Jenny Holzer (2004). The latter consisted of a series of large-format texts, which the artist projected onto architectural and natural monuments (e.g. The old parish church in Lech or the rock face Kansfluh). With its idea Inside the Work the KUB presented itself as an institution in an international context at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York in 2005.
The project Horizon Field is in keeping with the KUBs series of already initiated artistic interventions in public space in Vorarlberg and at the same time represents a climax because this field of figures is bang installed in one of Vorarlbergs most beautiful landscapes.
In 2007, after the development of the project idea and the initial selection of the installation sites by the artist, the Kunsthaus Bregenz (under then Director Eckhard Schneider) started a campaign to inform the various groups who might be affected including individual communities, tourist associations, environmental protection and landscapes conservation authorities and others about the development of Horizon Field.
34 property owners, of which 12 are agricultural communities (some comprising several hundreds of shareholders), have demonstrated their extreme openness, understanding, and dedication by approving the installation of the sculptures. Horizon Field would not have been possible without such an open and constructive dialogue within this complex network of interest groups.
For more than 25 years Antony Gormley has revitalised the human image in sculpture through a radical investigation of the body as a place of memory and transformation, using his own body as subject, tool, and material. Since 1990 he has expanded his concern with the human condition to explore the collective body and the relationship between self and other in large-scale installations such as Allotment, Another Place, Critical Mass, Domain Field, and Inside Australia. His work increasingly engages with energy systems, fields and vectors, rather than mass and defined volume, as evident in Another Singularity, Blind Light, Clearing and Firmament. Gormleys most recently acclaimed live artwork One & Other, saw 2,400 participants representing every region of the UK each spend an hour on an empty plinth in Londons Trafalgar Square for 100 consecutive days.
Antony Gormleys work has been exhibited extensively throughout the UK, with solo shows in venues of London such as the Whitechapel, Tate and the Hayward Galleries, the British Museum and internationally at museums including exhibitions in the Louisiana Museum of Humlebaek, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, Malmö Lonsthall, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria and Antigua Colegio de Sal Ildefonso, Mexico City. He has also participated in group shows at the Venice Biennale and the Documenta 8 in Kassel.
Antony Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999 and was made an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997. In 2007 he was awarded the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Trinity College, Cambridge, and Jesus College, Cambridge, and has been a Royal Academician since 2003.