A contemporary intervention in Russia’s greatest museum
A new exhibition by the British Sculptor Antony Gormley titled STILL STANDING is set to open in Russia in late September. It marks the first time that a living artist has engaged with the Hermitage’s classical galleries. Gormley places nine ancient statues in a loose constellation directly on the ground so that these idealised and sexualised bodies share the same conditions as the viewer. With support from the British Council and White Cube gallery, this exhibition comprises Seventeen of Gormley’s solid iron blockworks will be shown in a rigorous orthogonal arrangement in the Small Classical Courtyard or Antichny dvorik, one of the most famous interiors of the museum. Developed over the last two years, these works re-describe the space of the human body using the Euclidean geometry of architecture. Their abstract and severely constructed modernist volumes and rough, oxidised surfaces will be contrasted against the ornate neo-classical architectural surroundings and the idealised bodyforms of the previous room. STILL STANDING affords a unique opportunity to experience anew the predetermined context and content of a museum. In dramatically altering the viewer’s normal passage through the gallery space and relationship to sculpture the exhibition proposes that what is seen depends more on the engagement of the viewer’s own imagination than on museological theory. The sculptures will be shown among the classical Greek and Roman sculptures for which the Hermitage is famous. Gormley is anxious to demonstrate that classical marbles, his own sculptures and the living human visitors inhabit the same space and can converse with each other. In order to do this a false floor will be installed in the Dionysus Hall at the level of the plinths. The visitor will thus meet the sculptures at his own eye level. The Dionysus Hall contains the greatest Greek sculptures of the museum and notable Roman copies of Greek originals. The next gallery, the Roman Yard, will be entirely devoted to Gormley’s rusted iron figures, analysed into cubist rhythms, in various poses. Sponsorship is sought for the exhibition itself and also for new lighting in the Dionysus Hall.
Antony Gormley OBE, RA born 1950 is a sculptor. His best known works include the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead England erected in February 1998, and Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool. Almost all of his work takes the human body with his own body used in many works as the basis for metal casts.
STILL STANDING STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM, ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA 23 September 2011 – 15 January 2012