PILLAR OF SHAME
- A happening of remembrance
A Sculptural Outcry
A Pillar of Shame was set up in Hong Kong on 4th June 1997.
This event marked the initiation of an art happening that will spread over the Planet over
the next ten years. Once a year, a Pillar of Shame will be mounted as a memorial of a
severe infringement against humanity. The Pillar which is an original dark sculpture eight
metres in height depicting more than 50 painfully twisted human bodies.
The Pillar of Shame represents a good deal of money: the only symbol
which really commands global respect. Monuments of this calibre are normally set up in
memory of 'heroic' deeds.
However, here the sculpture will be mounted to serve as a continual
reminder of a shameful act which must never reoccur. The Pillar of Shame is a kind of Nobel
Prize of Injustice.
A Reminder in History
Our memories become ever shorter because our consciousness is overburdened by the media's
continuous stream of information. The smell of decomposing corpses and death vanishes as
soon as the pictures fade from the screen. It is the aim of the Pillar of Shame to
perpetuate the memory of the atrocity and its victims - to serve as a reminder in history.
The symbolic value of the sculpture is enforced by the reactions of the authorities,
whether they destroy it, brush it aside or allow it to stand. In all circumstances it will
have a symbolic value enforced by the fact of being a part of a global network of similar
Debut in Hong Kong
The first Pillar of Shame was presented to the world public in November '96. Exhibited on
the NGO Forum of the FAO summit in Rome, Italy, the sculpture became a sort of symbol of
On 4th June '97 the happening was started when 55,000 people gathered in Victoria Park in
Hong Kong for a solemn candlelight vigil to commemorate the bloodshed 1989 in Beijing. The
Pillar of Shame was displayed as the focal point of the ceremony. Hereafter it is
displayed in turn on all the seven universities in Hong Kong until 4th June '98 when the
Pillar once again took centre stage at the ceremony in Victoria Park.
The sculpture is now stored in a container until a permanent site can be found.
Setting up the Pillar ahead of the hand-over on 1st July, is a way of placing the
sculpture on Chinese territory. Expressing an overt accusation of the old men's regime in
Beijing, it functions as a litmus test of the authorities' vow to respect human rights and
free speech in Hong Kong.
The Next Site
for mounting a Pillar will probably be Mexico that got a macabre actuality on 22nd
December '97, when 45 indigenous people were slaughtered in the village of
We're also considering to set up a Pillar in Northern Brazil in commemoration of a
massacre on landless peasants.
The Initiator of the happening is Danish sculptor Jens
Galschiot, born 1954. He is married with three children. He has exhibited in Denmark,
Greenland, Germany, England, France, Italy and Spain. In recent years, he has had an
increasing interest for happenings as an art form.
The Theatre of Reality
His happenings function as gigantic theatrical events. His sculptures set the scene.
Suddenly they turn up in the street and the play starts. Politicians, the media and the
public are brought in as actors. They adopt their role with ease as the symbolism of the
happenings is open for interpretation. But no matter what they do, they contribute to the
dynamics of the happening by constantly creating new symbols.
The artist's message is aiming at the defence of the ethical foundations of our
civilization, independently of political, religious and economical interests.
Network of Volunteers
The happening is carried out by innumerable unsalaried helpers. Their commitment
symbolizes of our common responsibility, both socially and ecologically, for the
development of the Earth. This responsibility should not just be left to politicians,
experts, artists etc.
We'll be pleased receiving financial support, as we are constantly in lack of money. We
have made some small original models of The Pillar fore sale in support of the
happening.If you could possibly could help in any other way, send us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Biggest Art Happening in Europe
So the press titled My Inner Beast, carried out by Galschiot in '93. In twenty big cities a sculpture of a pig
in human clothes was set up without the knowledge of the authorities as a symbol of the
Focus on Double Standards
Galschiot has often been accredited as an NGO on international conferences, e.g. on UN's
social summit in Copenhagen. On this occasion he carried out the happening The Silent Death with the aim of highlighting the double
standards of the rich world. We're solemnly proclaiming the inviolability of the
right to life, but at the same time we accept a global imbalance with thousands of
children as victims each year.
750 figures of children (a total of 15 tons) were fettered to benches, lamp posts etc. all
over the City. In addition 13,000,000 certificates, one for each child doomed to die of
hunger and lack of medicine in 1995, were distributed.
More information and a lot of photos are
available at our homepage http://www.aidoh.dk or by
Banevaenget 22 - DK-5270 Odense N - Denmark
Tel. (+45) 6618 4058 - Fax (+45) 6618 4158
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