Incredible Installation Shows Intertwined Figures Trying to Hold Up a Bridge

ContraFuerte Sculpture in Philadelphia by Miguel Antonio Horn

Philadelphia is known for its public art, and now another incredible piece has graced the city. ContraFuerte is a new sculpture that was installed in Center City by local artist Miguel Antonio Horn. Created for the city's acclaimed Percent for Art Program, it shows a tangled mass of humans clinging to and holding up a small bridge that connects two buildings. The eight figures are incredibly dynamic and the sculpture soon went viral.

Horn, who is of Colombian and Venezuelan descent, has been blown away by the reaction. Though Horn and the investors of the project were planning to unveil the sculpture to the press in late September, a local blog post in August caused images to circulate far and wide. It was a welcome surprise for Horn, who has created many public art pieces in Philadelphia.

Each figure is made of aluminum plates that are cut out in topographic forms. In grouping the figures, Horn gives harmony and balance to the sculpture without taking away from the dynamic tension. As a viewer, it's unclear as to whether these figures will triumph and keep the bridge afloat or if they will be dragged down by its weight. That eternal question is what makes it impossible to look away.

Twisting People Sculpture in Philadelphia

When deciding how to approach the space, Horn wanted to address some of the important issues happening in the world today, while also leaving the piece open to interpretation. “I felt the need to address these battle[s]: the violence, the struggle, the experience that women, people of color, and immigrants experience when seeking their space in our society,” Horn shares. “The alley was the perfect spot for that; a message of resistance.”

The artist also adds, “ContraFuerte has deeper-seeded questions that are rising about our society and the things that we are facing nowadays. It speaks to the strength of communities, to finding balance, to supporting one another, to feminism, to the discomfort when saying a word.”

The sculpture was created as part of the Percent for Art program, an initiative for more than 60 years in Philadelphia that requires new construction or major renovations to allot 1% of their budget to site-specific public art. To see more about Horn's creative process, check out a special Instagram he set up to share sketches and mock-ups. If you are in Philadelphia and wish to see the ContraFuerte for yourself, you can find it in Center City on Cuthbert Street between 12th and 13th Streets.

Miguel Antonio Horn created a stunning public sculpture in Philadelphia title ContraFuerte.

ContraFuerte Sculpture in Philadelphia by Miguel Antonio Horn Twisting People Sculpture in Philadelphia Sculpture of Entangled People in Philadelphia

A special Instagram account he set up shows his creative process in making the large sculpture.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ContraFuerte (@contrafuertephl)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ContraFuerte (@contrafuertephl)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ContraFuerte (@contrafuertephl)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ContraFuerte (@contrafuertephl)

Miguel Antonio Horn: Website | Instagram

All images by Conrad Brenner. My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by StreetsDept.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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