Pillar of Shame sculpture Hong Kong

Public Art : Pillar of Shame sculpture

Sculptor: © Jens Galschiot

Description: This controversial 2 tonne concrete sculpture features 50 twisted bodies that form the pillar. The sculpture was created by Danish sculptor-activist Jens Galschiot to mark the 8th anniversary of the 4th of June Tiananmen Square protests (1989). The torn and twisted bodies of the sculpture symbolize the degradation, devaluation and lack of respect for the individual. The black colour symbolizes grief and loss and the sculpture, which represents the victims, expresses the pain and the despair of the event. In 2008 the sculpture was symbolically painted orange to raise awareness about human rights in China. Yes, it's still orange. On the base of the statue, is the history and pictures of the massacre and also includes the words "The Tiananmen Massacre", "June 4th 1989" and "The old cannot kill the young forever." in both English and Chinese.

Date Unveiled: The Pillar of Shame sculpture was originally erected in Victoria Park on the 3rd of June, 1997 to mark the 8th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests

Location: The Pillar of Shame sculpture was originally erected in Victoria Park  but following the candlight vigil some students, at 3am, somehow managed to move the 2 tonne sculpture into the podium of the Haking Wong building at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).  The sculpture was later displayed at various local universities before being returned to HKU. In 1998 the student's union held a poll in which the students voted for the statue to remain at the university on a long term basis.Today it stands at the Haking Wong Podium.

Artist's Statement : It reminds people of a shameful event which must never happen again.


A Memorial for Tiananmen

This original sculpture has been mounted to perpetuate the memory of the massacre that took place in Beijing on 4th of June 1989. The Tiananmen movement that was so violently suppressed was fighting for the basic human right of freedom of expression and for the right to participate in the decision making processes affecting the future of its own country.

Things You May Not Know About The Pillar Of Shame :

This is the list of Universities who have had the Pillar of Shame on display ...

Chinese University of Hong Kong from 28 September 1997,
Lingnan College from 2 November 1997 ,
Hong Kong Baptist University from 29 November 1997,
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology from 23 January 1998,
Hong Kong Polytechnic University from 1 March 1998, and the
City University of Hong Kong from 29 March 1998.

On 31st of May 1998, the ninth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, the sculpture was returned to Victoria Park where a candlelit vigil was held. On the morning before the vigil, a self-professed artist splashed two buckets of red paint onto the Pillar, claiming that "the blood of people is also my blood."

There is a silent tribute held by HKUSU and The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China in May every year.

On 30 April 2008, the Pillar of Shame was painted orange as part of the project The Color Orange to raise awareness about human rights in China. The sculptor who intended to participate in the painting of his sculpture was denied entry to Hong Kong during this time for fears he would disturb the 2008 Beijing Olympics torch relay event. Subsequently he missed out.

There are three other Pillars of Shame.

One is located at the Ostiense Air Terminal, Rome, Italy, and was erected in 1996, during the FAO Summit, and depicts the deaths caused worldwide by hunger due to the uneven distribution of the world's resources.
The second is in Acteal, Chiapas, Mexico. It was erected in 1999, to mark the site of the December 1997 massacre of 45 members of the civil society group Las Abejas in Acteal.
And the third one is in Brasilia, Brazil. it was erected  in 2000 in homage to the victims of the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre which occurred in 1996. This was later moved to Belém, the capital of Pará, the federal state where the massacre occurred.

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