Denmark 12. Nov. 2021
Open letter to The University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong authorities
from Jens Galschiøt, the artist behind the Monument of the Tiananmen Square Massacre 1989
My legal representative in Hong Kong has since October 12, 2021, attempted to contact The University of Hong Kong around the removal of the Monument of the Tiananmen Square Massacre 1989. We have also sent a letter to the university's legal representative Mayer Brown and have tried to get clarification and collaboration around the removal.
The Pillar of Shame, as the monument is also called, has for 24 years been exhibited at The University of Hong Kong.
We have not at the time of writing received a reply to our inquiries. I am therefore sending this open letter through the press to reach an agreement on how we can resolve the situation around the monument, which I am the rightful owner of.
I can understand from statements in the press from The University of Hong Kong, that: “a Hong Kong University spokesperson did not directly respond but told Hong Kong Free Press that they are still seeking legal advice and working with related parties to handle the matter in a legal and reasonable manner.”
I am very happy to hear this, as I am also interested in resolving the situation and getting started on moving the sculpture.
However, there are issues we must clarify and agree on first:
1. Full cooperation: The University of Hong Kong must enter into a full cooperation with myself to have the sculpture removed, otherwise it will not be possible. I need the university to assist with technical assistance, roadblocks, permits and other advisory support.
2. My presence in Hong Kong is necessary: The sculpture is very difficult to move, and it will require considerable expertise to move it from the area at the university without causing significant and irreparable damage to the costly sculpture. The move will therefore require me to personally come to Hong Kong with my team of staff who, in collaboration with local Hong Kong companies and helpers in Hong Kong, can undertake the work. The sculpture can then be transported out of Hong Kong to Denmark.
3.Immunity from prosecution: I can understand from the press that the introduction of the new security legislation in Hong Kong means that there is a legal basis for arresting foreign nationals who engage in activities that criticize China. A removal of the Monument of The Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 will lead to activities and media coverage that could be perceived as criticism of China. Therefore, I will have to get a guarantee that my employees and I will not be prosecuted in relation to the disassemblement and moving of the monument.
I propose that such an agreement is made between the responsible authorities in Hong Kong and in Denmark. I can state that I have twice been refused entry into Hong Kong by the local authorities.
The Hong Kong authorities must also guarantee that the local people and companies that I will need to work with in Hong Kong will not be prosecuted because they have helped a foreign artist remove and dismantle the monument.
It will be difficult to move forward with the planning and procedure before we get the above issues clarified. As soon as I have received a positive message about the cooperation from The University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong authorities, I will start planning the specific procedure for moving the Monument of the Tiananmen Square Massacre 1989.
I have sent this letter to my legal representative in Hong Kong and asked the representative to send the letter to the Hong Kong authorities and The University of Hong Kong's management and responsible authorities.
I believe, it is important to preserve the history of any country, and I am therefore sorry that my monument, which is a memorial to the events at The Tiananmen Square 1989 in China, is no longer welcome. Of course, I would very much have preferred for the monument to stay at The University of Hong Kong, where it has been for 24 years.
However, in full collaboration with both the university and the Hong Kong authorities, I will remove the sculpture and send it to Denmark.
With the hope of a good and constructive cooperation,
DK-5270 Odense N, Denmark
Tlf +45 66184058 Mobile: +45 40447058