A Man Fell Into Anish Kapoor’s Black Hole of Art in Portugal

A 60-year-old museum visitor fell into Descent Into Limbo in Porto last week, and is now recovering.

Anish Kapoor

Among the installations at the Serralves Museum’s “Anish Kapoor: Work, Thoughts, Experiments” exhibition in Porto, the first museum survey of the artist’s work in Portugal, is a dark pit, roughly 8 feet deep and 10 feet across, entitled Descent Into Limbo. Painted in Vantablack, the “darkest man-made substance”—a black so black it’s not even a color, it’s actually a series of nanotubes that is Kapoor’s medium of choice—it reflects so little light as to give the impression of a bottomless portal into the earth. It’s sort of the diametric opposite of the sculptor’s best-known work, a giant silver bean.

Well, it appears one visitor to the exhibition decided to see for himself if limbo really lay at the bottom of the well. The local newspaper Publico first reported last week that a 60-year-old art lover had fallen into Descent Into Limbo, injuring himself and damaging the sculpture in the process. It’s not clear how he managed to topple into the artwork, given that there are museum staff members monitoring the installation, according to a museum spokesperson. Nevertheless, the man is reportedly recovering and “almost ready to return home,” says The Art Newspaper, and Descent Into Limbo is almost ready to be reopened.

A cubical building with a black hole in the floor, Descent Into Limbo is, according to Kapoor’s site, a “space full of darkness, not a hole in the ground.” Hopefully, a space full of darkness offers a softer landing.