Art dedicated to the Olympics is one thing, but Jesus statues?

I caught wind of this via New Humanist yesterday. The 2012 Olympics are being held in London this year. It’s been suggested that since Rio de Janeiro is hosting the next one, it might be nice if London pays homage to the giant Jesus statue overlooking that city by setting one of their own on Primrose Hill, in one of the posher areas of the city.

The logic of that baffles me, too. Sure, make note of the next host in some grandiose way if they want a show, but can’t they do it in a way that isn’t going to promote a religious icon? The Olympics encompass more than Catholic and Protestant athletes, after all. It’s for all creeds and nationalities (or at least the ones that have the money and/or facilities required to get athletes trained and fit enough to enter).

ArtLyst, a London art magazine, has an article about this. Turns out Brazil’s government would be forking out the money to build it. I find that interesting.

The proposal goes before Camden’s Town Hall planning department in February. The original consultancy was employed by Brazil’s tourist agency who held a public meeting to display the designs and this project was chosen as the most representational of the nation. People living in nearby Hampstead and Belsize Park have called the idea kitsch and completely out of character with the local Georgian and Victorian architecture. Some local residents have commented; “It may be quite upsetting and threatening for the non-christians and non-religious of us, out here.” But my favourite comment was; “This idea can only be described as a proposal for an outrageous act of ‘landscape holiganism’. If erected I only hope Banksy defaces it as soon as possible.”

And I add a link to Banksy’s website in case you’re as clueless as I am.

The short article then quotes a few people from the Friends of Primrose Hill committee, including chairman Malcolm Kafetz’s comments to the Camden New Journal regarding the move. He thought the location was a bad choice. For him, the statue would add nothing of worth to an area already popular because of its view and because he doesn’t think it’s representative of England or the Primrose Hill area itself. Others are willing to at least hear the proposal and find out if builders intend for the fiberglass installment to be permanent. If it’s a limited time only thing, they might let it pass.

Lib Dem councillor Chris Naylor said he wasn’t sure a 30ft statue of Christ with his arms outstretched was quite what the area needed. He added: “If they want to put something on the hill I think they need to get some more original ideas. This sounds a bit like some marketing brainstorm which hasn’t been thought through.”

Camden New Journal reported that some emails had been obtained where residents had been told to keep the proposed plan hushed up so it could be revealed later in a big media splash. Unfortunately for the planners, there were some leaks. Then again, did they actually think it’d be possible to keep something like this a secret?

Judging by the Journal article, it sounds like it’s not a definite Go anyway. The Brazilian Tourist Board and Camden-based designers See Me, Hear Me, Feel Me Ltd. have to fill out applications like anyone else, which leaves a bit of room for requests to be later denied. We shall see, I guess.

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