A mere days after its existence became widely known, China’s giant gold Mao Zedong statue (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/gold-mao-statue-china-402602) is no more. The seated monument, which measured roughly 37 meters tall (121 feet) and cost nearly 3 million yuan ($459,000), has been shrouded in a black cloth, and the Communist leader’s arms and legs have been roughly shorn off.
The concrete and steel statue was widely criticized for revering Mao, especially given in its location in impoverished Henan province. In recent years, the late leader has become a source of nostalgia for Chinese people, despite the fact that millions died during his regime.
While it remains unclear who is responsible for the statue’s abrupt destruction, when the public turns against public art, things can get ugly: In St. Petersburg, Russia, a Christian group smashed a historic bas-relief sculpture of a demon (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/russian-christian-fundamentalists-destroy-sculpture-329047) in August, while the ousting of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/see-deposed-ukrainian-presidents-outrageously-tasteless-art-collection-12530) in 2014 saw crowds tear down several statues of the Vladimir Lenin (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/patriotic-ukrainians-tear-down-lenin-statue-116479).
Drunkenness (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/russias-lenin-selfie-trend-323547) and ill-advised selfies (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/italian-student-smashes-sculpture-while-taking-selfie-6343) are also leading causes (https://news.artnet.com/people/tourists-smash-italian-statue-while-taking-selfie-294167) of statue destruction.
“I heard it was destroyed yesterday,” an anonymous local delivery worker told the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/08/giant-golden-chairman-mao-statue-destroyed-henan-province?CMP=fb_gu) on Friday. “I heard it was because it had occupied a farmer’s land.”
The People’s Daily (the media arm of the Communist Party, http://news.ifeng.com/a/20160108/46993745_0.shtml) confirmed that the work was removed.
As unpopular as the expensive project had proved, destroying the work seems doubly wasteful. If anything, the massive statue would probably have become an offbeat tourist attraction for the remote village. If Beast Jesus can draw a crowd in Borja, Spain, who’s to say Golden Mao wouldn’t have ultimately been a hit?
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artnet News, Friday, January 8, 2016