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Antony Gormley: ‘Every person is one pixel in a bigger picture’

March 24, 2010

Putting replicas of his own body on buildings – now in New York – is far from an egotistic act, the artist explains


Janice Turner

In a dusty room a young woman wearing a protective mask is filing down Antony Gormley’s buttocks. The Gormley she is working on is one of dozens that are piled rather disturbingly throughout the vast studio, like casualties in an android war. Some are curled, foetus-like, others with arms spread like a crucifix, a few have limbs contorted at unfeasible angles. Near by a man is welding together tessellated panels that will form one giant abstract metal Gormley.

Then in comes Gormley himself to oversee his latest production line of clones. The buttock-filer is rubbing down the very newest model, made two days earlier when the artist went through the routine he has done some thousand times in the past 30 years. Naked but for a covering of clingfilm — to stop the plaster ripping out his pubic hair — he lays down to be bandaged and covered in goo until several hours later he is sawn free.

Do you ever get fed up with his naked body, I ask the woman. She laughs and before she can answer Gormley says: “It’s not sexual, you know.” In fact, he insists it is a form of meditation — he’s a Buddhist, so should know — although to me it resembles a rather extreme spa treatment. “It is the only time,” he says, “when I’m not expected to do anything.”

And now the army of Gormleys — the 100 who line up looking out to sea in Crosby, Liverpool, in Another Place, and perched along the Thames skyline in Event Horizon, whose gargantuan big brother, with added wings, forms the Angel of the North — are set for world domination. In New York, 31 Gormleys are being positioned around Madison Square Park, whose conservancy commissioned the project: the figures are meant to be seen from the park, the cast iron men at ground level and fibreglass Gormleys high up on skyscrapers, including on the Flatiron Building and on the 25th floor of the Empire State itself.

Read more at: ‘Every person is a pixel in a bigger picture’

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