The New York Police Department wants the public to know that the figures gazing down from buildings near a Midtown park are an artist's body casts — not residents poised to jump. City officials were worried the outdoor exhibit might spark 911 calls of possible jumpers, so it wanted to alert the public ahead of time, said police spokesman Paul Browne. Last month, the first sculpture of the installation, called "Event Horizon," was placed on top of a building that houses Pentagram Design's New York offices. The work by British artist Antony Gormley consists of 31 life-size figures of the artist's body cast in iron and glass fiber. The sculptures will be installed on pathways, sidewalks and rooftops of buildings surrounding Madison Square Park and other locations in the city for an exhibit beginning March 26. Sara Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which is sponsoring the installation, said it was unlikely the work would lead to confusion by the public. "We feel very confident that New Yorkers and others that are in the area will understand that these are sculptures," she said. But some early viewers were alarmed by the human figures peering over the rooftops.
Gormley created the installation for a show in London in 2007 and scouted locations for the New York version. The artist was traveling in Europe recently and couldn't immediately be reached to talk about the work. In remarks distributed to the press about the installation, Gormley said he wanted to "play with the city and the people's perceptions." "My intention is to get the sculptures as close to the edge of the buildings as possible. The field of the installation should have no defining boundary," he said. Mayor Bloomberg downplayed worries that the statues will scare people. "I haven’t seen it," confessed the Mayor. "You know, I think that New York will adjust very quickly. I don’t think anybody’s going to think it’s somebody jumping, which is the argument against it. We’ve tried to get the message out before others went up so hopefully you will inform everybody and they won’t think so," he said.
The installation will be on view through Aug. 15.