Danish sculptor demands HKU to bear compensation if the “Pillar of Shame” sculpture is removed from campus next Wednesday


9th October 2021 – (Hong Kong) The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has ordered the now defunct Hong Kong Alliance to remove the Pillar of Shame, an artwork which pays tribute to victims of Tiananmen massacre from its campus by 5pm next Wednesday.

Its creator and Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot pointed out that although he has not signed any sale and purchase agreement or received payment, the sculpture still belongs to him in principle. He also pointed out that he believed that removal of the sculpture would cause irreparable damage, and the University of Hong Kong had to bear the risk of compensation. Jens issued a statement stating that in the past, works were given on loan in Hong Kong for permanent display. The content of the agreement included the management of the sculptures by the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Alliance, and they were responsible for the cost of the exhibition. He pointed out that, in principle, the artwork is still owned by him, and he is puzzled that it needs to be removed without receiving a notice from the University of Hong Kong.

In addition, he emphasised that the “Pillar of Shame” is an extremely precious artwork. After 24 years of display, it may have become fragile. Uffe Elbaek, the former Danish Minister of Culture and current Member of Parliament, also issued a statement stating that the removal and destruction of historical monuments and sculptures usually only happen in dictatorship or fundamentalist societies, but now they are happening in Hong Kong. He believes that the incident reflects the central government’s attempt to clean up important historical events in collective memory, and Hong Kong people continue to face oppression every day. He described the action as shameful and called on the international community to boycott it.