The Danish artist behind a Hong Kong sculpture mourning those killed in Tiananmen Square has instructed a lawyer to secure his work and bring it overseas after the city’s flagship university ordered its sudden removal.
The eight-metre (26-feet) high “Pillar of Shame” by Jens Galschiot has sat on the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) campus since 1997, the year the city 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 around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Last week Hong Kong’s oldest university ordered it to be removed by 5pm on Wednesday citing “legal advice” as authorities crack down on dissent.
Mr Galschiot told AFP he had hired a local lawyer and requested a hearing with the university over the future of the statue as the deadline looms.
“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 AFP via email.
Mr Galschiot said he would prefer the statue to have stayed in Hong Kong. If it was destroyed by authorities, he said, Hong Kongers should collect “as many pieces of the Pillar of Shame as possible”.
“These pieces may be used to make some symbolic manifestation that ‘Empires pass away – but art persists’,” the artist said.