A number of statues placed on the rooftops of buildings in Hong Kong as part of a public art project have been mistaken for people contemplating suicide, with two alarm calls to the police on Thursday.

The art installation project, Event Horizon, was created by British artist Antony Gormley and will be exhibited in Hong Kong from November 19 to May 18 next year. The art installation will feature thirty-one sculptures “mounted at both street level and building tops across Hong Kong’s Central and Western districts”, the British Council said. It is also reportedly the largest and most prolific public art project ever installed in Hong Kong,” having secured support from both landlords and the government.

city hall statue
A statue on top of City Hall in Central.

“Through the catalyst of Event Horizon I want the city of Hong Kong to become a place of reverie that invites reflection on human nature and our place in the wider scheme of things,” said Antony Gormley.

As the organiser began installing the statues on rooftops over the past week, however, the confusion began. A police spokesperson confirmed with Apple Daily that they had received a call at around 9am on Thursday, saying that someone on the roof of St George’s Building might be attempting suicide. Another call was made to them at 2:20pm, claiming that someone was standing close to the edge of the JW Mariott Hotel building in Admiralty. In both cases, the police arrived on the scene to find that they were merely statues, not living people.

statue central
Another statue in Central.

Previously, the public art project has been showcased in London, Rotterdam, New York, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The statues have caused similar problems for the police both in New York and London, when the public believed them to be people attempting suicide.

river thames
One of the Event Horizon statues overlooking River Thames in London. Photo: Wikicommons.

“I arrived at the office at around 9:15am… I saw a group of my co-workers gathered near the window, talking about how scary it was – because someone who sat near there last year had witnessed someone jumping off,” Miss Leung told Apple Daily. “Two of my colleagues called the police, who later told us it was part of an arts exhibition. It’s outrageous… we were really frightened.”

“It’s very disturbing… it keeps reminding you that someone killed themselves here last year, that thing being there,” she said. Last February, a JP Morgan banker jumped to his death off the roof of Chater House, a 449-feet tall tower near St George’s Building in Central. The Event Horizon exhibition, which was originally scheduled for May 2014, was postponed after sponsors withdrew following the incident.

The PR company for the art project said that they had notified the police and the Fire Department in advance, so that they could inform citizens who were concerned that it was merely an art installation.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.