Press release 20 December 1999:
The controversial Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot has donated a 200,000 dollars sculpture to the Brazilian parliamentarians. The
sculpture titled The Pillar of Shame is one the most renown sculptures of the nineties, for good or for bad depending on
the chosen viewpoint. It is eight metres in height depicting more than 50 human bodies, painfully twisted in an obelisk form.
The artist has donated similar sculptures before:
¨ In 1997 one was bestowed to
the democracy movement in China who put it up in Hong Kong to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing 1989.
¨ Another Pillar was in April
1999 given to the Indians of Mexico who have used it as symbol of the encroachments on the indigenous population.
The donation of sculptures is the corner stone of a world-embracing art manifestation: about once a year a Pillar of Shame will be set up to highlight a severe infringement against humanity.
Jens Galschiot is donating this Pillar of Shame, the third one of the series, to the
Brazilian parliament to give an opportunity to all democratic forces to manifest their determination to defend the human rights. If the parliamentarians decide to accept the Pillar and to put it up on a
central square in the capital, they will send out a signal to the outside world that they are seriously concerned about the legal security of each citizen.
The sculpture will be erected to mark the massacre of Eldorado de Carajás on 17 April 1996
where 19 landless peasants lost their lives – shot at close quarters or mowed down by their own farm tools. Ironically, this bloody event has given rise to the International Day against Impunity. For
that reason the Danish artist has chosen the 17 April 2000, the fourth anniversary of the massacre, as the date for setting up the Pillar.
More information and many photos are available on the Internet: www.aidoh.dk
1. Letter to Brazilian parliamentarians
After mature consideration we have now chosen Brazil as the country to receive the next Pillar of Shame. This event will undoubtedly be especially highlighted, due to the fact that it is the First Pillar to be set up in the new millennium.
The sculpture will be landed in Brazil at the beginning of 2000, so that it can be mounted on a central square
in the capital on 17 April, the fourth anniversary of the Eldorado massacre. The bestowal of the prize has been made by the Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot and Art In Defence Of Humanism. Mounting and transport
will be free of charge for the recipient.
The Pillar of Shame is a sculpture eight metres in height depicting more than 50 human bodies, painfully twisted in an obelisk form. The sculpture forms part of a humanistic art manifestation that is during a decade embracing the whole planet. Pillars of Shame will be set up all over the world to mark severe infringements against humanism. When a Pillar has been mounted it will a part of a world-embracing network of similar sculptures. Hence it will contribute globally to preserve the memory of an outrageous act which must never reoccur.
The first Pillar of Shame was put up in Hong Kong on 4th June ’97. The
sculpture was set up to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing in ’89 where the Chinese authorities brutally crushed the democracy movement.
The second Pillar of Shame was put up in Mexico City on 17th April ’99 to mark
the International Day against Impunity. A couple of weeks later the sculpture was set up at the entrance of the village of Acteal in Chiapas where 45 unarmed indigenous people were murdered in cold blood by
a paramilitary group on 22nd December 1997.
As mentioned Brazil will be the next place to put up a Pillar of Shame. This event will
take place on the 17th April 2000. Subsequently a Pillar of Shame will be put up on a central square of Berlin in the autumn of the same year in remembrance of the victims of the mass
extermination of the Nazi Regime 1933-45. The Berlin Pillar of Shame has already been positively received by various members of the German Parliament.
When we have chosen to put up the next Pillar of Shame in Brazil it is due to the fact that
it is a bloody event in exactly this country which has originated the initiative of the International Day against Impunity, namely the massacre on 17th April 1996 in Eldorado de Carajás, where 19
landless peasants lost their lives – shut down at close quarters or mowed down by their own working tools.
The Pillar of Shame does not pronounce any judgment on the question of guilt. But the
sculpture adduces the claim that the guilty at all levels be made responsible: those who carried out the massacre, those who gave the orders and those who at different levels are covering up the
The sculpture is given to the Brazilian state, represented by the parliamentary assembly
who by accept it is sending a signal out to the world of the determination of the state to guarantee the legal security and to reinforce the defence of the human rights in Brazil. The sculpture is bestowed to
the Brazilian parliament to give all democratic forces an opportunity to manifest their serious concern about the legal security of each citizen.
On the base of the sculpture there will be a plate containing a statement of the artist
about the reasons for choosing Brazil to put up a Pillar of Shame. On another plate there will be a statement of the Brazilian parliament explaining why the elected representatives have decided to accept the
The bestowal of the Pillar of Shame is made on the assumption that the Brazilian parliament
decides to set it up on a central square in the capital. We expect the National Assembly to decide about the present as soon as possible and not later then 15 January 2000 and communicate the site selected for
mounting the sculpture, so that the practical planning can be started.
We are always at disposal for further information. In addition, information is available on
our web-site: www.aidoh.dk.
We are sending documentation to all the parties on the Pillar of Shame and the mounting of
the sculpture in Hong Kong and Mexico.
Photos of the Pillar of Shame set up on the Zócalo of Mexico City are available on the
2. Donation of the Pillar of Shame
At this point Brazil has been chosen as the place to put up the third Pillar of Shame. The Pillar of Shame is a sculpture which is
put up all over the world in defence of the humanistic basis of our civilization.
This sculpture has been given to the Brazilian state to mark the massacre of Eldorado de
Carajás on 17th April 1996 where a slaughtering of land-less farmers took place leaving 19 dead people behind. The setting up of the Pillar of Shame
contributes to preserve the memory of this encroachment.
The Pillar of Shame is bestowed to the Brazilian state represented by the elected
Parliament in order to emphasise the part of the state as a guarantee of the legal security of the inhabitants and the inviolability of the human rights in Brazil.
The Pillar of Shame is to be put up in the capital of Brazil on 17th of April 2000, the fourth
anniversary of the Eldorado massacre.
English version corrected by Luis M. Luis (E-mail: luisluis@Luis.com)