The mega art installation “GIANTS: Rising Up” created by French artist JR in celebration of the city’s art month has sparked criticism. Feng-shui masters argue that the display has a bad omen because it looks like a person falling from a building. Measured at over 10 metres tall and wide, the Harbour City-commissioned artwork made its Asia debut on March 13, 2023, at the shopping mall’s Ocean Terminal Deck in Tsim Sha Tsui.
According to the press release published by Harbour City, “GIANTS: Rising Up” depicts an athlete high-jumping and “enjoying the sensation of free fall.” Inspired by the “Giants” installation on view at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the posture of the sculpture has the symbolic meaning of “taking off”. To make the installation more authentic, the larger-than-life-sized sculpture is supported by bamboo scaffolding, a traditional construction technique in Hong Kong.
Despite the installation being thoughtfully designed with good intentions, some Feng-shui practitioners do not seem to appreciate the artwork and are worried that it will bring bad fortune to the city. Feng-shui practitioner Spencer Ying-chung Lee said in an interview with Oriental Daily News that the installation is very problematic. According to Lee, it appears to be a person jumping into the sea, and ”dying without a place to bury the body properly”, an ominous concept loathed by many Asians. Moreover, since the installation is placed outdoors and combined with bamboo scaffolding to add “a touch of Hong Kong,” Lee thought this will impede construction site safety, pointing out the high frequency of industrial accidents recently.
Lee published a post on Facebook on March 16 with the caption “No wonder there are so many accidents in Hong Kong this month. Art always contradicts Feng Shui…”
Other Feng-shui practitioners also expressed similar views. Feng-shui master Po Sin said in his YouTube video that the installation is unappealing in the way that it looks like a body being “pierced through by the bamboo.”
Feng-shui means “wind and water” in Chinese. It is named that way simply because it is just as difficult to “grasp” like wind and water. It is often considered when designing buildings and interiors in the Asian community to create good fortune.
Citizens have different opinions about the installation. Mary Wong Suk-man, a 54-year-old university lecturer, thought the art installation does not appear to be very pleasing mainly due to the bamboo scaffolding structure.
I understand the meaning behind this art installation, but I can’t help picturing it as a construction site accident.” -Lecturer Mary Wong
However, Jennisa Kitjachanchaikul, a 23-year-old Thailand tourist has a different point of view.
I think the installation makes Hong Kong more lively.” -Tourist Jennisa Kitjachanchaikul
Anja J., a 54-year-old German marketing director, appreciates and respects Feng-shui, but thought the installation may not necessarily bring bad fortune.
The installation is not here permanently. I think it might be more breaking to the Feng-shui if it was.” – Marketing director Anja J.
The exhibition of “Giants: Rising Up” is part of the annual Hong Kong Arts Month. It is hosted in March every year with various art events, exhibitions and workshops presented by local and foreign artists.
While the Hong Kong public welcomes the art scene brought by international and local art talents, it is not the first time they have been criticised for damaging the Feng-shui of the City.
Featured image: Art Basel