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On 30th April Jens Galschiot makes the following declaration on the mounting of the Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong:

Set up a few weeks before the handover to China, the Pillar of Shame will be a test of the validity of the new authorities' guarantees for human rights and freedom of expression in Hong Kong. In this regard many feel rather uneasy. Maybe this year's June 4th demonstration will be the last one in foreseeable future. Also the fate of the Pillar of Shame, as a symbol of the demonstration, is uncertain. Perhaps the new authorities will brush it away or even destroy it.

Immortal Symbolism

However, I do not lose any sleep over these prospects. The assault on the sculpture, would just display the contempt of the authorities for the human rights and the freedom of expression in Hong Kong. Even the destruction of the sculpture cannot rub out the symbolic value of the Pillar of Shame, no more than the ruthless oppression has been capable of choking the spirit of Tiananmen. Inevitably, the site where the first Pillar of Shame was set up will be saturated with a symbolic value that will be reinforced by the following 19 sculptures placed around the world.

Global Communication

In Denmark and in Europe I am known as an artist with a humanistic approach to the creation of sculptures. On the World Exhibition Expo '92 in Seville I made a big sculpture group for the Danish exhibition in the Art Pavilion in cooperation with a group of young unemployed people. They had received a submarine as a gift from Gorbatjev with the aim of establishing a peace project.

In '93 I carried out the happening My Inner Beast. In twenty European cities a sculpture of a pig in human clothes was set up as a symbol of the increasing racism and intolerance. I fear that this development will pave the way for a new wave of fascism in Europe.

During UN's social summit in Copenhagen '95 I carried out the UN-happening. 750 figures of 3-9 years old children (a total of 15 tons) were fettered to benches, lamp posts etc. all over the City. They symbolized the 35,000 who die every day, because of hunger and lack of medicine. In addition 13,000,000 certificates, one for each child doomed to die in 1995, were distributed. My aim was to highlight the hypocrisy of the West towards the problems of the poor countries. patronizingly we're trying to teach the rest of the world about ethics, but when it comes to the point we are flot ready to give up our privileges to promote a better global balance.

My happenings were widely covered by the world's media. Even the official TV of China transmitted a laudatory on-the-spot report from the happening in Copenhagen. Especially the media of the poor countries took considerable interest in the event.

Art in Defence of Humanism

In most circles I'm certainly regarded as a lefi-wing artist. My sculptures and my happenings, e.g. My Inner Beast, have predominantly been aggressed by the extreme right-wing in Europe. But now I'm facing a new situation in connection with the mounting of the Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong in support of the democracy movement and the human rights issue in China. Some declared 'leftists' still view the Beijing regime as communist and left wing. So, according to a banal logic, they regard my overt attack of the Chinese regime as a 'right wing' act.

In a sense my art cannot be placed within the traditional framework of right and left. It is aiming at the promotion of a humane ethics that should be shared by all civilized people. On the other hand, I do support ideals that are traditionally ranged as left-wing. I support the endeavour of the farmers' and workers' movement for a just social distribution of the resources of the society and I support a social structure aiming at the care for the underprivileged. I oppose the neoliberalistic trends propagating the savage Jungle Law as the basis of our societies, locally as well as globally. At the same time I support the basic humanistic ideals of Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood.

These ideals are the very source of propulsion for my artistic activities. Without the liberty to criticize, equality before the law and brotherhood to care for each other, the society will slide into a sink of corruption, abuse of power and eruel oppression of the individual.

This is why I'm supporting the memorial of the Beijing massacre. The Pillar of Shame is a sculptural outcry from an artist with the right to say what he likes, to people who risk their lives for making use of the same right.

Jens Galschiot

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    1997: The Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong
    Additional Information:
    Categories: 1997: The Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong | Happenings and Art Installations | 1996-?: The Pillar of Shame | Activities related to China
    Themes: Criticism of governments | Free speech | Massacres | Schools involved
    Sculptures: Pillar of Shame
    Type: Press releases
    Dates: 1997 | 4th June 1997
    Locations: Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China | Baptist University, Hong Kong, China | Chinese University, Hong Kong, China | Haking Wong podium at the Hong Kong University, Hong Kong, China | Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong, China | Lingnan College, Hong Kong, China | Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China | University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China | Victoria Park, Hong Kong, China
    Co-operators and Helpers: Anne Lund | Art critics association, Mr Lau Kin Wai | Blue Water, forwarding agent | Cheung Man-kwong, a core member of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement | Chui Way-hang, student leader | Emely Lau, Urban Council | Erling Hoh | Georg Zoega | Hong Kong Christian Institute | Ip Kwok-chung, councillor | Jun Feng | Lasse Markus | Lene Jelling | Linda Wong Shui Hung, Students’ union, HK University | Martin Lee, MP Hong Kong | Niller Madsen | Patrick Wong Chun Sing, Students’ union, HK University | Robert Etches | Stanley Wing-Fai Ng | Students’ union, Hong Kong University
    Partners: Albert Ho | Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democracy in China | Ocean Fung | Szeto Wah
    Related Persons and Entities: Chinese Government | Chris Patten, last British governor of Hong Kong | HK police | Hong Kong Arts Centre, Oscar Ho | Hong Kong University Social Science Institute | M+R (Metzger + Richner), forwarding agent | Recreation Committee in Hong Kong | Regional Council (in the New Territories) | SAR government | Tung Chee-hwa, HK head of government after 1st July 1997 | Urban Council Hong Kong | Urban Council, Select Committee | Xinhua (New China News Agency)
    Sponsors: BUPL | DeTrey Dentsply AG, Schweiz | Fredsfonden | Funch Fonden | Gelsted/Kirk/Scherfig fonden | Kultursekretariatet i Odense Kommune | Lysgaard Fonden | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund / National Federation of Social Educators | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund i Vejle | Vedstaarup Lerfabrik A/S