Time for a memorialtorium by mattsteinglass
June 13, 2007, 5:56 pm
Filed under: China, Oddities, Russia, United States

GWB dedicated a memorial to the victims of Communism today in D.C., and, boy, is it an ugly piece of crap.

Bush dedicates butt-ugly anti-Communist memorial

There is, as far as I can tell, not a single monument to the victims of Communism anywhere in the world that is not a butt-ugly waste of metal. This one is actually modeled after the paper-mache Statue of Liberty the democracy movement set up in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Is it possible to be more symbolically obtuse? The whole charm of the Tiananmen Square statue was that is was an ad-hoc, goofy, awkward student project. It was improvisational, like the Burning Man; it stood for the whole “informal civil society vs. monolithic State” trope which the students were calling upon. And it depended on the incongruity of this Western Franco-American Lady Liberty/Marianne type at the gates of the Forbidden City, facing the giant countenance of Mao. When you take that funky paper-mache Lady Liberty, turn it back into metal (transforming its charming ungainliness into hulking ugliness), and stick it permanently on a streetcorner in DC, where practically every block has some metal lady holding up a torch, a flaming sword, etc., for a variety of causes which no one even remembers anymore — it just looks stupid.

One gets the sense that DC’s urban landscape is going to be forever at the mercy of overgrown children with the architectural tastes of 12-year-old Battlefield: Europe addicts. The FDR memorial, the WWII memorial — both awful. And now this eyesore. I grew up in D.C. It’s sad to see my old city subjected to this. It is, in fact, a representation of a dynamic that is essentially Communist — the same dynamic that produces the ugly cookie-cutter war memorials that plague the Vietnamese landscape. Some joker proposes a memorial to a sacred patriotic cause, knowing that politicians will feel obliged to grant them money and permission to build; then there’s an opportunity for a sweet little contract for their sculptor and landscaping-contractor buddies or relatives. Thus is our landscape gradually befouled, our symbolic vocabulary gradually exhausted. This piece of junk they’ve just planted in DC belongs in one of those sculpture graveyards that dot the former Communist world. Instead, citizens of DC are going to have to stare at the damn thing for decades.

No more memorials, please. D.C. can’t take it.

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