Press Release 4 June 1998:

A Ball of Shame
One Year of Turmoil Elapsed for
Controversial Sculpture in Hong Kong

NA01143A.gif (987 bytes)Pictures of the Pillar of Shame in Hong Kongno-frames.JPG (4677 bytes)

"The Pillar of Shame seems to have become a 'ball of shame', being kicked around by councillors", Mr Cheung Man-kwong, a core member of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement said two weeks ago. Mr Cheung referred to the 8 metres high sculpture created by the Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot. The Pillar depicting more than 50 painfully twisted human bodies will be mounted once a year as a memorial of a severe infringement against humanity.

From the very beginning the destiny of the sculpture was completely uncertain. As the Pillar of Shame arrived in Hong Kong one year ago, many people expressed serious doubt that we would ever succeed to set it up in Hong Kong. Not even the first site for setting up the sculpture was really ensured.

Now, one year later, the situation is essentially unchanged. On Tuesday the Urban Council once again sacked the application to find a permanent site for the Pillar of Shame in public parks. So it is still unknown what will be the fate of the Pillar after its second display at the candlelight vigil in Victoria Park on 4th June. Will the authorities eventually give way to the popular demand to set up the sculpture in a public park? - The close 18 - 19 vote gives hope for a changed attitude in the future.

This time the Urban Council majority, of which 9 members have been appointed, have displayed a refreshing honesty, openly admitting that the ban on the sculpture is based on political considerations. "All displays should be non-controversial in nature because people should not be forced to see with which they did not agree", councillor Ip Kwok-chung says. Appointed member Annie Wu says that Hong Kong people should not discuss matters concerning the Beijing government under the one country, two systems policy.

Maybe the students will once again take the Pillar in their custody. The Federation of Students are collecting signatures in favour of the public display of the statue. In a referendum the students have approved a permanent site on Hong Kong University. In September the university's leadership will take the final decision.

If no permanent site can be found, the only option left might be to bury the sculpture or place in a container, as an ultimate symbol of the pitiable conditions for free artistic expression in Hong Kong.

The agitated life of the Hong Kong Pillar of Shame has endowed the sculpture with a unique symbolism. One can hardly imagine how an art piece could become a more poignant symbol of an intransigent determination to safeguard free speech and democracy. After last year's solemn candlelight vigil, where 55,000 people gathered to commemorate the victims of the reckless crackdown of the students' revolt in Beijing, the Hong Kong students adopted the sculpture. They displayed it in turn on all the seven universities in Hong Kong, mainly to manifest their right to do so. By this unprecedented course of action the students have written art history: never before has a piece of art been staked so conspicuously for the defence of basic civic rights.

On the occasion of this years candlelight vigil Jens Galschiot declares:

"The fate of the Pillar of Shame is uncertain and unforeseeable. So is the fate of the reality of which the sculpture is a symbol: a free and democratic China. However, one thing is certain: the totalitarian and repressive regime in Beijing will not infinitely succeed to stifle the seeds of freedom, justice and democracy. As I've carved in the sculpture:

The old cannot kill the young for ever!

Information and photos on Internet:

Relevant documents
  • PILLAR OF SHAME - A Happening of Remembrance to the  version of this document  to the  version of this document  
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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 | 4th June 1998
    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