Three years after it was originally scheduled, JR‘s enormous art installation has finally taken its place overlooking Hong Kong's Victoria Bay. The French artist didn't let delays brought on by the pandemic stop him from creating Rising Up, which was inaugurated to usher in Hong Kong Arts Month.
The piece shows an athlete jumping across a mass of bamboo scaffolding and is a continuation of the Giants series that JR began during the 2016 Rio Olympics. For JR, who says he's always been intrigued by Hong Kong's bamboo scaffolding, it only made sense to revisit the project in this location.
“As an athletic gesture, ‘rising up' embodies taking the risk to separate oneself from solid earth, to resist the pull of gravity and feel the brief freedom of flight,” he explains.
Measuring nearly 40 feet tall and 40 feet wide, the installation is impossible to miss when visiting Hong Kong's Ocean Terminal Deck. The impressive installation is garnering a lot of attention and is particularly popular on Instagram, with visitors posting pictures daily. But, for some, there are concerns about the artwork.
In particular, practitioners of feng shui, have taken issue with the composition. Feng shui calls for the specific arrangement of objects in order to optimize the flow of positive energy. It is widely practiced throughout Asia and taken into consideration for design and architecture projects. Some followers have voiced their concern with the high-jumper's position.
Artnet quoted feng shui master Po Sin as one of several experts who questioned JR's artwork in a recent YouTube video: “Doesn’t it look like someone who fell off from a building landing on a bamboo scaffolding, and the body is pierced through by the bamboos?”
“You can have people climbing on a bamboo scaffolding, but not having someone landing on it on a person’s back,” he continued.
Criticisms surrounding the installation mirror concerns around previous artworks on Victoria Bay. In 2019, American artist KAWS found his sculpture, Companion, at the center of a similar controversy. The enormous sculpture showed the artist's signature character floating in the bay and was compared to a “floating dead body” by feng shui master Steve Lee. Feng shui believers later viewed it as an omen of the police crackdown against pro-democracy protestors that occurred just a few months later.
Whether you feel JR's installation should adhere to feng shui rules or not, there's no doubt it cuts an impressive figure across the skyline. And, for now, it will remain as is until it finishes its run on April 23, 2023.
A new installation by French street artist JR has gone up in celebration of Hong Kong Arts Month.
The impressive installation has caused a stir with some, who view the position of the athlete's body in opposition of the basic principles of feng shui.