August 18, 2011

The Mao / MLK hybrid on the National Mall

Chief Seattle explains the hulking Martin Luther King statue debuting on the National Mall in D.C.:
It's a monument to modern American corruption and incompetence in every way. First King's family held it up because they wanted a payout. A payout to "use his likeness". Not only were they not willing to "donate" his likeness for free to be used on a public monument, but some scumbag lawyer apparently managed to argue that chiseling an statue of a famous historical figure violates copyright.

Then they get a mainland Chinese to sculpt it. Is that because out of 1 million art students in college at any time that none of them are competent enough to chisel some stone? Or that the powers that be just can't bear to miss out cheap Chinese labor? Or maybe someone just figured that no one understands the American civil rights struggle and the physique of a black man like a mainland Chinese communist? 
Then after they hire the Chinese he picks the wrong color stone. Was there a sale on white? Someone cancelled their marble countertop at the last minute and he got a half price special? Nope, turns out it was just what the Chinese prison labor dug up that month. 
Seriously. 
The cherry on top is this little nugget from wikipedia: 
In September 2010, the foundation gave written promises that it would use local stonemasons to assemble the memorial. However, when construction began in October, it appeared that only Chinese laborers would be used. The Washington area local of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers union investigated and determined that the workers are not being paid on a regular basis, with all of their pay being withheld until they return to China.[53] 
Lawyers and academics and copyright whores spend so much time and money arguing that the only way to afford the project is cheap foreign labor with substandard materials. And the result speaks for itself. Truly a monument for our times.

55 comments:

don't overpay said...

Today they're doing fake Apple stores. Tomorrow: Nationl [sic] Mall of Guangzhou

Kaz said...

Seriously, why outsource for art.. There are many starving unemployed artists in America, I'm sure one of them could have done the job cheaply.

Wes said...

The statue does have an advantage due to its vaguely Chinese look: It prepares us for the day the Chinese officially take over. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

why the hell can't we get that deal for the mexican laborers? no pay until you leave

MLKzilla said...

At the Washington Post group's Root site Cynthia Gordy has a great tidbit about the fundraising:

Guess Who Donated to the King Memorial? (August 17, 2011)

The biggest donors aren't interesting of course (GM, Gates Foundation, FedEx) but she singles out black celebs who promoted the memorial yet deferred rather than pony up.

"'African-American giving in general tends to focus on two very specific areas -- giving to religious organizations and giving to educational issues,' Batten told The Root, adding that those top two areas are fairly consistent across racial and ethnic groups. 'I don't know that that differs by economic status, but when you think about folks like Oprah, Bill Cosby and Maya Angelou, education is a pretty common thing in their own individual philanthropy.'"

I'm not keen on distant historical analogies (publicly funded Lincoln Memorial, conquered peoples) but I'm also not really surprised that affluent blacks, however much they liked the idea of a $120 million monolith, figured this one was better left to the national fraternities and global corporations. An exception would be Sheila Johnson-Newman (co-founder of BET with her husband, and a rather interesting woman in her own right) but George Lucas, Wal-Mart, and good old Fannie Mae each matched her.

The New York Times has been covering the monument beat pretty well over the past 4 years, which got me thinking on why and for whom these things get built, since it's obviously nothing to do with civic feeling. And the Santanas chipped in for the new Dr. King Voltron, so you know what that means: the PRC is probably buzzing with guys right now working on their best Jorge Ramos...

Georgia Resident said...

A monument to corruption and greed? Doesn't Detroit already fill that role?

Anonymous said...

Why not the famedalexnader stoddart?

even a student at GCA could have done better.

actually, i do find it very interesting the consciously choose the soviet/authoritarian style vs. classical western style..

Anonymous said...

In September 2010, the foundation gave written promises that it would use local stonemasons to assemble the memorial. However, when construction began in October, it appeared that only Chinese laborers would be used
so the foundation board can pay itself more.. and the chinese get $$ .. democrats in action. just look at how fiensteins husband makees $$ via chinese connections

eh said...

I wonder if anyone will spray graffiti on it.

Once when visting DC I was walking 'round back of a building just off the mall -- forget which one -- when I noticed some skateboarders doing what a lot of skateboarders do, which is to say committing vandalism by landing and sliding their skateboards along surfaces etc, which can do a lot of damage. They were doing this on the nice stone of some monument -- the base of a statue. I walked up (they were white, so I wasn't too worried wink wink), and it was clear they were doing real damage to part of this public monument. My remonstrations (yes, that's what they were) fell on deaf brains, if not deaf ears. Anyway, they did not appear to have much impact. So once out of sight I called the cops. Not sure if they ever showed up.

So some people have no respect.

John said...

Hybrid. National.

Anonymous said...

It also indicates how much blacks hate whites... they NEVER would have chosen a white male to make that sculpture, no matter how good an artist he was.... hell, Michelangelo would be brushed aside for AA considerations... a minority, even a chinese one.. well especially a chinese communist one? A-OK.

there are a handful of pretty good black realist painters -they should have asked one of them to do it - its not 'that hard' for a painter to 'art direct' a sculpture' and even render something in clay.

fun side note, many prominent 19th century sculptors, like Daneil chester french (lincoln memorial) would just render the model in clay and have a foundry do the bronze and professional marble cutters (usually Italians) do the marble statue - even on smaller scale works.


BTW, is this thing marble? if so its going to look like sh*t in a few years, out in the sun uncovered/protected. Marble is a soft stone.. sadly enough so soft that pollution is eating away the names on many marble headstones.

Anonymous said...

...and of course, criticizing it will be racist.

Anonymous said...

The commission was criticized by human rights activist Harry Wu on the grounds that Lei had sculpted Mao Zedong. It also stirred accusations that it was based on financial considerations, because the Chinese government would make a $25 million donation to help meet the projected shortfall in donation
Ahhh NOW i get it.. a 'donation'.

Could you imagine hiring a guy who had sculpted hitler.. hell, even franco? no. but a communist who killed 50 million.. no problem!

Side note, we go into a hissy about the taliban destroying buddist sculptures, but after WWII we destroyed plenty of Arno Beck's work, one of the great artists of Hitler's germany

Anonymous said...

I don't want to minimize or sanitize King who was, like JFK or the NVA, a true representative of the times, and frankly--plagiarism or no--a helluva better speaker than WFB or BHL (not to overlook our very own BHO of the Davos Toastmasters school). On the other hand it feels good to laugh at the ridiculous sordid details behind the edifice which seem to exceed all satire. Aside from ho-hum points about more money misspent, does this befit the surreal life in the imperial capital or what? It's one thing for an aging generation to wax nostalgic, but it's strange, passing strange to watch them bequeath giant political tsotchkes to the next.

Black Death said...

What's wrong with this? In nearby Bedford, Virginia, they've built a statue of Josef Stalin as part of a D-Day memorial. At least the plaque acknowledges Stalin's crimes. Statues of Stalin used to be common in the USSR and eastern Europe, but they're just about all gone now. They've even taken down the one in Gori, Georgia, his home town. How fleeting is fame! But I've seen many statues of Mao in China. I once asked a Chinese guide about this. He and his friends were always telling me about the Japanese invasion of China during WW II, how bad the Japanese were, all the atrocities they committed, etc. All true, of course. There are even museums to this sort of stuff, which he urged me to visit. But Mao, I told him, killed a lot more Chinese than the Japanese ever did, plus his brilliant economic plans (Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, etc.), nearly destroyed the country. So why build statues to him? I never got a clear answer.

I've never been a MLK fan, but he didn't deserve this.

Anonymous said...

You need to fix the misspellings in the title.

Martin Regnen said...

You know, I wouldn't be surprised if out of that million art students exactly zero had the ability to chisel a statue like this. Making epic stone statues that actually look like real people doesn't seem to be the kind of skill American art education teaches.

Anonymous said...

And with that, BRA officially jumps the shark.

LBF

travis said...

How ironic: Black Moses gets a statue modeled after a shrine to Ramses II.

Kylie said...

I think the circumstances surrounding this statue of MLK are a fitting memorial to someone who outsourced his academic writing (and his marital relations) and had about as much concern for the average American as the Chinese do.

I like the fact that this great leader's likeness could well be stamped "Made in China". It's the perfectly tacky touch to the tacky veneration of a tacky rabble-rouser.

Pro-China said...

Very snarky, I like it!

BUT, why call the guy a Chinese Communist? Are all Chinese from the mainland by default a communist? Unnecesary anti-China'ism there.

Robert Holmgren said...

Don't judge a man by the color of his marble.

Anonymous said...

Why not use Chinese labor probably under the threat of being organ donors? Why not white stone that the prisoners would have just made into little stones? Why not a Chinese artist? Aren't Chinese people notoriously fond of American black folks?

Marco Lalo said...

You seem to think that companies love to hire unqualified minorities or to fulfill some kind of unofficial quota. Do you have any evidence that they are not qualified or is this just a suspicion? People not already inclined to think as you do need evidence to be convinced not just screeds and rants.

Anonymous said...

"chiseling an statue of a famous historical figure violates copyright."

Noooot at all what happened. But ok.

Georgia Resident said...

Given that black-run countries tend to look less organized versions of Mao's handiwork, and given MLK's role in turning the US into a black and mestizo-run country, the Mao look is probably appropriate.

Not to mention, the use of cheap Chinese laborers in building the statue is also appropriate. After all, the main reason why there are black people in America is that southern planters wanted cheap labor.

Anonymous said...

"How ironic: Black Moses gets a statue modeled after a shrine to Ramses II."

Better than that one modeled on Michelangelo's David, though given King's sexual pecadillos, it might have been more appropriate. (And people might have recognized him as the king in another department.)

Anonymous said...

@ Martin Regnen said...
see my links to GCA above, I personally know at least a dozen people who could have done a better job than this.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of last year when the UT Co-op put up a bunch of stock/chinese-made statues to honor former longhorns. The football players looked like Al Jolson, and the basketball players a paunchy Michael Jordan. The whole thing was shut down after a thorough photoshop thrashing in this thread:

http://www.shaggybevo.com/board/showthread.php/75135-UT-Football-Basketball-Baseball-amp-Golf-statues-behind-Co-op/page4

Kids need Heros said...

Does this mean that MLK's FBI files and recordings due to be released in 2027 will somehow disappear, be accidentally destroyed or othewise rendered unreadable?

Dutch Boy said...

Since Dr.[sic] King described himself (privately) as a Marxist, perhaps it is a unintentionally fitting that his statue be created by a Commie artist.

Anonymous said...

King described himself (privately) as a Marxist,

i don't know why they make it private anymore, having to chose between rejecting marxism or racism, at this point the american people are so brainwashed, which do you think would go??

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone will spray graffiti on it.
graffiti would no longer be 'urban art' the new york times coos over, it would be a hate crime.

Anonymous said...

"The whole thing was shut down after a thorough photoshop thrashing in this thread"

Thank you, been a while since I laughed that hard.

Marlowe said...

Someone should carve a Jefferson Davis to stand opposite MLK. The two can enter into an eternal battle of stone eyed stares.

I await the President ordering the construction of a 200 foot statue of Leonard Nimoy to bestride Congress, gazing heavenwards.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

Speaking of Chinese and blacks, has everyone seen the Chinese basketball team attacking the Georgetown team?

Gabe Ruth said...

Immortality (your name said with respect, your likeness in grand or beautiful works of art, your achievements linked to your name for all time), monetized. Do people that quote him in print get cease and desist notices?

Anonymous said...

"Speaking of Chinese and blacks, has everyone seen the Chinese basketball team attacking the Georgetown team?"

I have to hand it to the Hoya players. They're the only black guys in a nation of a billion Chinese and yet they didn't hestitate to go to blows for a teammate who was getting pummeled.

Truth said...

"After all, the main reason why there are black people in America is that southern planters wanted cheap labor"

And the only reason white non-WASPs are here is because Northern factory owners wanted cheap labor...so what?

rob said...

Wes said...

The Chinese taking over? What the 'ell, man? Back when you were shilling for the shapeshifting lizard space aliens I had some respect you. You really sold out.

The statue sort of reminds me of Robert Charles Wilson's sci fi book about a future totalitarian state that sent statues of their overlord back in time as pre-propaganda.

Kylie said...

"Reminds me of last year when the UT Co-op put up a bunch of stock/chinese-made statues to honor former longhorns...The whole thing was shut down after a thorough photoshop thrashing in this thread."

That was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Operation Elevate MLK to Founding Father Status on the Mall: EPIC FAIL

Truly cringe inducing ugly chunk of rock. Was it sabotage by the Chinese? Coffinesque framing toward the hind end. WTF. Is that a defense against the mob pulling it down a la the Saddam statue in Bagdad?

Too funny. love the facial expression. Authentic revolutionary scowl! Real Inner Party!

As a non-fan of Black Run America I claim total victory . Predict it will be carted away within ten years and put into permanent storage by the libs.

Anonymous said...

Chicoms had the brains to depict Mao with a smile.

The memorial committee actually chose this Mike Tyson like pre fight pose.

Wiki says his "gaze" (angry glare?) points toward the Jefferson memorial ...

Anonymous said...

That is the Nation of Islam ie Black Power pose with legs slightly spread and the arms across the chest and the prison yard glare. A lot more Malcolm X than MLK---with Reverend Wright overtones.

Really this is a scandal.

David Davenport said...

You seem to think that companies love to hire unqualified minorities or to fulfill some kind of unofficial quota

Unofficial quota?

American firms have to to hire minorities to fulfill official, mandatory US Gooberment quotas.

There is nothing unofficial about Equal Employment Opportunity Act requirements.

Martin Regnen said...

I don't think American art students have the ability or the equipment to deal with something of this size and mass. Communist countries and former Soviet republics that crank out huge statues of their leaders to this day are good at this kind of thing.

Well, if you Americans decide you don't want it after all, I wouldn't mind having it in my back yard. I kinda like the angry glare and pose. Your government will pay for the shipping, right?

ancient Chinese secret, eh said...

Kind of preferred the original title of the post even if it was a typo. I've purchased more than my share of basically adequate trans-Pacific products, which used to have their own "hybirid" Han-English documentation printed on crumbly paper with that faint whiff of chloroform. Hasn't anyone else seen the video from pompous Southerner Stephen Colbert, which is done like a '60s educational film but shows Bangladeshi children carrying around misspelled factory seconds of titles for "The Word" segment? (I confess to not remembering much of it.) MLK Brands Partners LLC got exactly what they paid for, and what's-his-name who did the work probably effected an above-average job of project management here. I'm happy the figure wasn't sculpted in a Zhongshan suit, which might be my soft bigotry of low expectations talking.

In fact I have no major problem at all with PRC mainlanders qua being PRC mainlanders, since they obviously sized up this fool's errand for what it was worth. Personally I have no skill for carving freakish stone hulks either, which ought to impair my bid for the imminent national Hispanic monument to "No One Really Comes to Mind"--but back in the Pleistocene epoch all this summertime-amusement blog-fodder was actually controversial: NYT 2008

There were folks vehemently opposed to the (they felt) misbegotten direction of the enterprise, before the slave laborers began cracking rocks. Yet three years later we got our not-very-good statue anyway, which just shows what you can accomplish when all the forces of U.S. financial establishment and moral authority are arrayed in your favor.

Anonymous said...

And the only reason white non-WASPs are here is because Northern factory owners wanted cheap labor...so what?

Clever retort, but not quite the Truth. The Dutch, French, Spanish and Russians all had colonies in various parts of the New World.

Anonymous said...

@ Martin R.
Wrong American Art students - from places like GCA are actually far superior to Oriental artists, Scottish sculpture Alexander Stoddart has been making monuments for decades, of far better quality.

This is however a great reflection of the current state of the USA, corrupt, incompetent, spiteful and just plain ugly.

Truth said...

"Clever retort, but not quite the Truth. The Dutch, French, Spanish and Russians all had colonies in various parts of the New World."

And there werer Africans in Mexico and Central America 1000 years ago. Agian, so what? Curacao is not "here" and neither is St. Maarten, but Ellis Island is.

Svigor said...

"After all, the main reason why there are black people in America is that southern planters wanted cheap labor"

And the only reason white non-WASPs are here is because Northern factory owners wanted cheap labor...so what?


Wait, I think I'm the guy who's supposed to say "so what?" here. Or maybe I'm supposed to just delete all after labor?

Just saying, I don't see the point-counterpoint that's being suggested here...

dearieme said...

Oi, Steve, here's David Starkey explaining that the reason it's so hard to get into Oxford or Cambridge is that the admissions process is swamped by the Jamaican gangsta youths who do so well at school. Or perhaps not.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8711621/UK-riots-Its-not-about-criminality-and-cuts-its-about-culture...-and-this-is-only-the-beginning.html

Anonymous said...

And there werer Africans in Mexico and Central America 1000 years ago. Agian, so what? Curacao is not "here" and neither is St. Maarten, but Ellis Island is.

Please elaborate on Africans being in Mexico 1000 years ago.

As for other Euros being only in exotic locales, what about the Dutch in New Amsterdam, the French in Northern New England, and the Spaniards in Florida. Those are all areas that were incorporated into the USA either before or shortly after the Founding.

Wes said...

Rob you are right ... but the Chinese now have more money than the shapeshifting reptiles. I go where the power and money is my brother.

Truth said...

Please elaborate on Africans being in Mexico 1000 years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0YjonB97RY

Sure there were a few explorers from other countries, but there is a reason English is the world's lingua franca today.

BTW here are a couple of your "hook nosed 'Catholic'" Hispanic Nobel winners:

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A9sar_Milstein

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernardo_Houssay

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severo_Ochoa

Hey, Sevvy could be Einstein's brother!