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Gormley describes his work as “an attempt to materialise the place at the other side of appearance where we all live.” The 2006 Sydney Biennale featured Gormley’s Asian Field, an installation of 180,000 small clay figurines crafted by 350 Chinese villagers in five days from 100 tons of red clay. The appropriation of others’ works caused minor controversy and some of the figurines were stolen in protest.Also in 2006, the burning of Gormley’s 25-metre high The Waste Man formed the zenith of the Margate Exodus.Many of his works are based on moulds taken from his own body, or “the closest experience of matter that I will ever have and the only part of the material world that I live inside. His work attempts to treat the body not as an object but a place and in making works that enclose the space of a particular body to identify a condition common to all human beings. The work is not symbolic but indexical – a trace of a real event of a real body in time.

  

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