Live-nude, ‘jumper’ art has N.Y.C. confused

A sculpture, not a jumper. This figure, part of "Event Horizon" by Antony Gormley, is on the roof of 1133 Broadway in New York. Police acknowledge logging 10 worried calls over several weeks, but one report said calls come in every day.
A sculpture, not a jumper. This figure, part of "Event Horizon" by Antony Gormley, is on the roof of 1133 Broadway in New York. Police acknowledge logging 10 worried calls over several weeks, but one report said calls come in every day. (Peter Mucha)
Posted: April 16, 2010

Talk about provocative art.

One New York exhibition has inspired unwanted groping, while another has prompted calls to police about possible rooftop jumpers.

The live nudes at the Museum of Modern Art want to be treated like artworks - no touching, please.

Except, of course, where they're crowding a doorway, forcing visitors to squeeze between a naked woman and a naked man.

But that doesn't mean it's OK to "grab a stranger's junk," to quote a blog at thelmagazine.com.

Some patrons have gotten overly friendly, according to performers featured in a Marina Abramovic retrospective.

One told the New York Times that an older man "proceeded to slide his hand onto my ribs and back and then touched my butt. . . . As he was passing me he looked me in the eyes and said 'You feel good, man.' "

The performer said the museum revoked the man's 30-year membership and barred him forever. Others have been escorted out.

The Please Touch Museum this is not.

Meanwhile, an outdoor exhibit, dubbed "Event Horizon," posed 31 life-size, anatomically correct, nude likenesses of artist Antony Gormley around the city, including on ledges and rooftops.

"Cops on the street are being driven crazy by the frequent reports of jumpers - especially since a Yale student actually jumped to his death on March 30 from the Empire State Building," according to the New York Post.

"Why not put statues on the corners holding guns at night?" one officer sarcastically complained to the newspaper. "That would be fun artwork, wouldn't it?"

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the displays, saying, "It's a great exhibition. It's one of those things that gets publicity around the world, brings tourists to New York."

Philadelphia, in contrast, has 20 painted copies of the Phillie Phanatic scattered around town, from the library to City Hall to Rittenhouse Square.

With outstretched arms, they're meant for fans to cozy up to for photographs - and not one is perched on a ledge.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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