What was it?
Over the past one and a half years, British artist Antony Gormley has prepared an exhibition at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Europe’s biggest space for contemporary art.
Rather than following through with the proposed retrospective, Gormley decided to create a massive interactive sculpture that only comes alive by the participation of the visitors.
Visitors entered the massive, 3800 square meters Deichtorhallen only to be confronted by a vast space that is virtually empty besides a vast, black, reflective structure.
Horizon Field Hamburg was a large-scale artwork by British sculptor Antony Gormley. A 25 by 50 meter platform was suspended by steel cables 7.5 meters above the ground. It and weighed 67 tons and one single person could make it vibrate, by walking, running or jumping.
Gormley used a steel-and-wood understructure covered by a highly brushed black epoxy resin surface. The artwork weighed around 60 tons, having been constructed using 40 tons of steel. Installing the Horizon Field took one entire month.
The project was created for the 2012 documenta exhibition and opened to the public in April 2012.
Sculptor Antony Gormley said1:
It is critical that the experience of the space is utterly clear and that in there, we see a void, clean building reimagined as a kind of gymnasium for mind and body.
The suspended, slightly oscillating platform exploited the structural potential and architectural context of the space. The area below the Horizon Field was dark, sparsely illuminated by light from the skylights above.
The experience was enhanced by the reflecting ground, which made a gigantic mirror. The installation provoked an experience of re-orientation and re-connection with walking, feeling, hearing and seeing.
The audience could linger and listen to the steps and voices of the invisible people above them. Like a horizontal painting stretched taut in space, the visitor was positioned as a figure in a free, floating, undefined ground, becoming part of the work.
Individual and group experiences were mediated through vibration, sound, and reflection.
There is a double-bind here. We have a real choice of whose we wish to participate. We can stay in an underworld or climb skywards. Both scenarios put the human subject into a dynamic position of jeopardy.
To enforce his point, Gormley accomplished to keep the exhibition that ran until the 9th of September 2012 free of charge. A dedicated website allowed visitors to upload their own photos of the artwork, which then appeared in a blog.
When the installation was opened to the public, it was viewed by more than 42,500 visitors in the first six weeks. The project amassed around 120,000 visitors in total, making it the most successful exhibition at the Deichtorhallen in 2012, surpassing by far the number of 80,000 visitors for the previous record holder, a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition in 1995.
In 2010, the artist installed 100 life-sized cast-iron statues of the human body precisely 2,039 meters above sea level in the Austrian Alps, also titled Horizon Field.