They stand there silently, hovering at the precipice, as though deciding whether to jump.

The first one I saw startled the heck out of me. We were taking a tour of Sao Paulo and I glanced up at the rooftops and saw him. I realized it was a statue and mentioned it to Tom and Woody (our friend and tour companion). Oddly enough, Tom had just read about them. They’re unofficially known as the Suicide Statues, or the Jumpers.

The brainchild of artist Anthony Gormley, these suicide statues  arrived in Sao Paulo in early May and, predictably, the panicked calls to emergency services began immediately, with reports of people trying to jump from buildings. With 31 of these positioned on rooftops around the inner city, they’ve drawn a lot of eyes, and calls.

The life-size body cast sculptures are part of the artist’s first show Brazil, being held at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil. The show is called “Event Horizon.”

When the exhibition began, many people confused the sculptures with potential suicides and reported them to authorities. It’s no wonder. They look so real from a distance.

It’s not the first time the outdoor exhibition has caused a stir. It provoked the same panicked reaction when it was exhibited in New York and London.

A previous interview with the artist reveals the project was more about exploring the concept of watching and being watched, with passersby stopping to look up at the imposing figures while at the same time standing under their watchful gaze.

Here’s the link to the Daily Mail story about the artwork: (The photos on the blog are from that story. I couldn’t get photos from inside the car.)

All I can say is, these statues certainly added to the unreality of Sao Paulo, where luxury high rises abut favelas and crumbling buildings, where classic buildings are swallowed by concrete monstrosities, and where, if you look closely, you can see treehouses built in the trees along the medians of the highways.

Welcome to Distopia.