The Forms of Antony Gormley Art in Rio

By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Still Being (Corpos Presentes) exhibit consists of four major installations, models and additional works that spread throughout the floors of the CCBB, and expand beyond into the streets of Centro, Rio de Janeiro. All are the work of one man, British sculptor, Antony Gormley, who took time to answer questions for readers of The Rio Times.

Antony Gormley Critical Mass II at the CCBB, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

The Critical Mass II at the CCBB, photo by Chesney Hearst.

The outside installation, “Event Horizon” (also shown in São Paulo this year) features 31 statues cast from molds of the sculptor’s standing body. 27 are fiberglass and placed atop buildings while four cast iron figures, weighing approximately 650 kg each, stand at ground level.

“The challenge in both São Paulo and Rio was to get as many sculptures as possible surrounding the CCBB so that the relationship between those on the ground and those high up could be dynamic and make people second guess where they might see another one and become alerted to the texture, scale and skyline of their city,” Gormley told The Rio Times.

Inside the CCBB’s rotunda, sixty more iron figures also cast from the sculptor’s body (molded in five different postures), make up the center’s most prominently positioned installation, “Critical Mass II.”

“Critical Mass II was made for the Remise, a lager for the tram system in Vienna, and as such it was impossible to ignore the Holocaust and genocide; to not acknowledge the lost bodies of the Twentieth Century,” Gormley explained.

“The starting point of the work was trying to find these basic body positions, but then to test them in orientations that were not how they were originally cast. So they are all either fallen or inverted. And that resulted in revelations.”

“When inverted, the classic prayer position, a kneeling figure with its hands by its side (this is usually facing the wall), becomes another thing: the ‘arch of hysteria’. Or there is the typical mourning figure standing with head bowed ninety degrees to its body, like a figure at the foot of the cross: when turned the other way up it becomes a juggler or an acrobat.”

Anotony Gormley Event Horizon in Centro Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Anotony Gormley Event Horizon in Centro Rio, photo by Chesney Hearst.

Gormley later added, “So ‘Critical Mass’ does a lot of things: it looks at the body again, acknowledges the history and idealization of the statue and acknowledges the place it has in the construction of history. The installations in São Paulo and Rio are an experimental way to re-introduce anew.”

The Still Being exhibit continues in Rio’s CCBB on the first floor with “Loss”, a study of human form through welded steel blocks and “Floor”, the shape of the sculptors feet in a rubber pattern.

His installation, “Amazonian Field”, located on the second floor, was originally commissioned for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio (Rio+20, took place earlier this year in the city marking the Summit’s 20h anniversary).

The exhibit guide says the piece features “24,000 hand-made clay surrogate” bodies that “fully occupy an architectural space” and were produced with the help of over sixty residents of Porto Velho, Brazil.

Curator Marcello Dantas says “… when approaching the installations, sculptures and works in public space, more is revealed: his ability to articulate the perception of space causes the many layers of the body to become the DEFINER of the space. If the skin is the container of the substance of the body, the architecture is the container of the bodies we inhabit.”

Exhibit Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
Rua Primeiro de Março 66
Centro, Rio de Janeiro
From August 7th – September 23rd
Tuesday – Sunday 9AM until 9PM
Free entrance

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