Artist defends Michael Jackson statue after death threats at Hackney studio

The artist who created a controversial Michael Jackson sculpture on display at a Hackney recording studio has defended her work after it sparked hate mail and death threats.

Bosses at The Premises Studios in Hackney Road have received a barrage of angry messages from Jacko fans since displaying ‘Madonna and Child’, a life-sized model by Swedish-born sculptor Maria von K�hler showing the moment the star dangled his baby out of a hotel window in 2002.

Among those angry about the sculpture was Daniela Hairabedian, who said: “This sculpture is a disgrace. Instead of honouring Michael Jackson for his many contributions to the music industry, you chose to ridicule him in this manner. For your information, MJ was not dangling his baby, but showing the baby to his fans who asked to see the baby.”

But other fans were more extreme, even threatening to torch the studios.

“I live in London. I know Hackney very well, I have many friends who live there,” said one.

“I think we will come to put the fire, or something worst in your sh*t exhibit. Don’t mess with the fans of the King.”

Von K�hler defended her work this week, saying: “Personally I am pretty surprised and confused at the overwhelming amount of negative reactions to the sculpture. I am referring specifically to the presumption by many that it was created as a negative, judgmental or ‘jokey’ commentary on Michael Jackson and his personal or professional life. This is not the case at all.

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“In fact it is a representation of an actual incident as portrayed by the media, which was inevitably fuelled by a wide public of fans as well as critics of the star. The piece investigates the nature of the relationship between someone of unparalleled iconic status, the media and the public; the frenzy that subsequently ensued.”

The sculpture, which is hanging from an office window on the corner of Dawson Street and Hackney Road, is due to remain until May.

Viv Broughton, chief executive of The Premises Studios, said the artwork would not be taken down.

“How can a work of art that is faithful to a real event be construed as an attack on anyone?

“‘Madonna and Child’ is as much about extreme fan worship as it is about Michael Jackson.”