Magazine article New Internationalist

Antony Gormley

Magazine article New Internationalist

Antony Gormley

Article excerpt

When you reproduce and exhibit the human form, do you do so with a sense of pride in being human?

More with a sense of asking what it is to be human and how we, as an animal, turned out this way. We are the most vertical animal: our spines have become a vertical column. When we walk we do so not with security of four limbs but by constantly recovering from falling. The arrested and falling bodies created for Critical Mass1 are an acknowledgement of the dark side of human nature. This work is about the internal conditions of depression, the secrecy of Western torture and the special renditions that have characterized both the Iraq and Afghan campaigns; that are in some senses the true cost of a continued Western hegemony.

So much of your work has focused on producing casts of the male figure - how do you see the role of men in today's world?

The nakedness of my sculpture is more to do with exposure than to do with sexuality; more about vulnerability than dominance. Gender is something that is made, not given, and I think we are exploring what we mean by the various textures and complexions of masculinity. I am attracted by the notion of the male who goes out against all odds and gets the bacon. As a model it doesn't quite work any more, even though there are plenty of so-called alpha males out there.

The One and Other project invited members of the public to stand for an hour on the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square - did you enjoy putting normal people on a pedestal?

The project was an attempt to democratize the position of the 'statue' in our culture by allowing people to represent themselves, and allow their lives and beings to become a picture or a symbol for others. Obviously it worked against the background of popular contemporary cultural forms like reality and celebrity competitive television, but put those formats to a very different use. The point is that human diversity is as important as biodiversity and we need to celebrate it.

For your installation, 'Asian Field', Chinese villagers created a population of 200,000 clay figures - was this a comment on overpopulation?

It's clear that as the global population reaches seven billion we will begin to unbalance the ability of the Earth to support our species. Human extinction is inevitable, eventually, but it is our decision as to how long we wish the human species to be part of the life of this planet. …

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