Monday, April 23, 2012

ChiCom Sculptor, Stone Memorialize King


August, 2011

ChiCom Sculptor, Stone Memorialize King

2011 WAS an extraordinary year for American monuments. The memorial at Ground Zero opened in September 2011 in New York. One month later came the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial here in Washington, and soon to come to Washington—or perhaps not—is the memorial to President Eisenhower, which is to be a collaboration between architect Frank Gehry and sculptor Charles Ray.

Each of these has been the subject of furious controversy, especially those in Washington.

The King Memorial was criticized for engaging a sculptor from Communist China, who saw to it that Chinese rather than American granite was used for the structure—which accounts for its “Made in China” inscription. Even worse, the memorial managed to misquote the great man: Not only did he not say, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” but his actual words were a hypothetical statement put in someone else’s mouth. Worse still is the demeanor and expression of the sculpture. King was above all an orator, and in photographs he is invariably open in stance, speaking, gesturing, demonstrating, with his energy directed outward. Yet in the monument he is depicted with arms folded, utterly detached. Instead of inspiring warmth, there is the infinite aloofness of an idol.

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