The New York Police Department wants the public to know that the figures soon to be gazing down from buildings near a midtown park are an artist’s body casts – not residents in distress. The department was worried the upcoming outdoor exhibit might spark 911 calls of possible jumpers, so it wanted to alert the public, said police spokesman Paul Browne.
On Tuesday, the first sculpture of the installation, called “Event Horizon,” was placed on top of a building that houses Pentagram Design’s New York offices.
“We have a new staffer here at our offices at 204 Fifth Avenue; he doesn’t say much, and spends most of his time up on the roof, gazing at the skyline,” the company said on its Web site.
By nightfall, the figure was a dark sillhouette against the sky.
The work by British artist Antony Gormley consists of 31 life-size figures of the artist’s body cast in iron and glass fiber. The sculptures will be installed on pathways, sidewalks and rooftops of buildings surrounding Madison Square Park for an exhibit beginning March 26.
Sara Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which is sponsoring the installation, said it was unlikely the work would lead to confusion by the public.
“We feel very confident that New Yorkers and others that are in the area will understand that these are sculptures,” she said.
Gormley created the installation for a show in London in 2007 and scouted locations for the New York version. The artist was traveling in Europe on Tuesday and couldn’t immediately be reached to talk about the work.
In remarks distributed to the press about the installation, Gormley said he wanted to “play with the city and the people’s perceptions.”
“My intention is to get the sculptures as close to the edge of the buildings as possible. The field of the installation should have no defining boundary,” he said.
The installation will be on view through Aug. 15.