The Danish artist behind a Hong Kong sculpture mourning those killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre has instructed a lawyer to secure his work and bring it overseas after the University of Hong Kong (HKU) ordered its removal.
The 8m-tall Pillar of Shame by Jens Galschiot has sat on the university campus since 1997, the year the territory was handed back to China.
It features 50 anguished faces and tortured bodies piled on one another and commemorates democracy protesters killed by Chinese troops at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Last week, Hong Kong’s oldest university ordered it to be removed by 5pm yesterday, citing “legal advice” as authorities crack down on dissent.
Galshiot told reporters that he had hired a local lawyer and requested a hearing with the university over the future of the statue as the deadline loomed.
“I hope that my ownership of the sculpture will be respected and that I will be able to transport the sculpture out of Hong Kong under orderly conditions and without it having suffered from any damage,” he told reporters via e-mail.
Galschiot said that he would prefer the statue to have stayed in Hong Kong.
If it was destroyed by authorities, Hong Kongers should collect “as many pieces of the Pillar of Shame as possible, he said.
“These pieces may be used to make some symbolic manifestation that ‘Empires pass away, but art persists,’” the artist said.
Glaschiot said he had also been in contact with people in Hong Kong who were making 3D scans of the sculpture to produce miniature versions.
HKU’s removal order was penned by global law firm Mayer Brown and addressed to the Hong Kong Alliance, a now-disbanded group that used to organize the territory’s annual Tiananmen remembrance vigils.
The university said that it was “still seeking legal advice and working with related parties to handle matters in a legal and reasonable manner.”
Mayer Brown said that the university was a long-standing client that was being helped to “understand and comply with current law.”
“Our legal advice is not intended as commentary on current or historical events,” a spokesperson told reporters.
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