Field of Science

Something wrong with MLK memorial

Since the unveiling of the MLK memorial, something about the whole thing has bothered me. Anyone my age remembers vividly the civil rights movement and the role that MLK played in bringing about change. MLK may not have been the ideal man, but no denying his impact, so this is in no way an issue about MLK's worthiness of a national memorial. It's a strange nagging feeling that something just doesn't fit. Part of it is that MLK just doesn't look right in white marble, but this wasn't the basic problem although certainly it is bothersome. And then it finally hit me, this statue was more like what you would expect for a stature of Mao during the height of his power. Yes, this was a stature more fitting of Mao than MLK, the arms folded across the chest as he emerges triumphantly from the marble leading the revolution. It just isn't right; it's the wrong sort of image for MLK, just like the stupid sculpture of George Washington draped in a toga is just wrong for the man and his time. Wow! While searching for relevant images, the creator of the MLK monument turns out to be Chinese! Don't know what that explains, but it's sort of a spooky connection. Does this creep out anyone else?

1 comment:

Eric said...

Yes. Yes, it does. We had this same conversation at our house when we first saw photos of the memorial, and then we thought it was very Maoist. Nothing wrong with a little Socialist Realism, but what makes this creepy is it's as though the artist was working from verbal descriptions. Either make it look like the real thing, or stylize it to an intended effect. But this is somewhere in a squishy in-between so you don't know what the artist intended. Is it bad art or bad realism?