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‘Descent into Limbo’: art lover injured after confirming that cartoonish hole is definitely real

The artwork by Anish Kapoor consists of a 2.5-metre-deep hole in the floor that gives the impression of a bottomless void

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2018, 10:39am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2018, 10:42am

If there were any doubt at all that Anish Kapoor’s work Descent into Limbo is a genuine hole with a 2.5-metre drop, and not a cartoonish-looking black circle painted on the floor, then it has been settled.

An unnamed Italian man has discovered to his cost that the work is definitely a hole after apparently falling in it.

“What can I say? It is a shame,” said Kapoor, reacting to the news of the unfortunate accident at the Serralves contemporary art museum in Portugal’s second largest city, Porto.

The 1992 work is a cube-shaped structure which small numbers of visitors enter. Once inside, they encounter a black hole which they are warned not to go near. It gives the impression it could go on forever but is in fact about 2.5 metres deep.

The accident was first reported by the local newspaper Publico, which said it happened on Monday 13 August and involved an Italian man in his 60s.

The museum said visitors had to sign a disclaimer acknowledging the safety risk. There are also warning signs and a member of staff inside the cube. A spokesman told the Art Newspaper that the visitor is “OK [and] almost ready to return home”.

The exhibition in Porto, Anish Kapoor: Works, Thoughts, Experiments, features 56 models of realised and unrealised projects conceived by the artist over the last 40 years, some exhibited in the museum, others in the gardens.

The health and safety risks of artworks is a regular predicament for museums and curators.

When the Colombian artist Doris Salcedo installed Shibboleth, a gigantically long crack in the floor of the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in 2007, it was almost inevitable that some people would trip on it.

Despite warnings for visitors to watch their step, at least 10 people did just that, although no one was badly hurt.