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DO WE HAVE CONTROL OVER OUR MONUMENTS?

Heroes and their deeds cease to be meaningful when we no longer tell stories related to them. The same goes for monuments – they now and then need to be reactivated.
LENIN, THE HUMAN SCULPTURE

"The body is the biological structure of an historical monument" says Professor Yuri Denisov, director of the Institute of Biological Structures in Moscow, the agency responsible for the embalming of Lenin’s remains at the mausoleum in Moscow.

Following Lenin’s death in 1924, his body was placed in a temporary wooden mausoleum at the Red Square. Despite his expressed wish shortly before death that no memorials be created for him, the mausoleum still remains. When Lenin’s widow became aware of the plans to pickle her husband she protested in an open letter to Pravda, but to no avail. In 1929 the wooden structure was replaced with one made of stone.

The former President Boris Yeltsin long pushed for Lenin to be given a burial. This infuriated the still-powerful communists, saying that this would be an "act of political revenge" that would ruin the square's historical associations. A nationwide poll was conducted in 1999, of respondents in Moscow and St. Petersburg 53 percent actively advocated burial. The current President Vladimir Putin tries to avoid the question altogether.
In 2005 there were reports of a ghost in the mausoleum. It is regarded to be Lenin himself since there linger a smell of apple cake, a cake Lenin much enjoyed.

THE LITTLE MERMAID, CONSTANTLY BATTERED

A statue of the Little Mermaid, inspired by a fairytale by H C Andersen, sits on a rock in the Copenhagen harbour. She has become a major tourist attraction and a symbol of the city. The statue was unveiled in 1913 and presented as a gift to the City of Copenhagen from the Carlsberg brewer Carl Jacobsen.
She has had a hard life, not only in the fairytale. In 1963 she was painted red. One year later her head was chopped off and never returned. 1976 she was once again painted, in 1984 an arm was sawed off. In 1990 a new attempt was made to chop off her head that failed, but in 1998 she lost it again. 2003 she was painted white and later the same year dynamite was used to blast her off her rock. She has reportedly also been draped in a burka as a statement about Turkey joining the EU. In 2006 she will be moved out into sea, to protect her from further vandalism.

RAVENS AT THE TOWER OF LONDON

The Tower of London is officially Her Majesty's Palace and Fortress, although it has become more known as a prison and place of execution. Ravens are kept there since the end of the 17th century. Legend has it that if the ravens leave, the Tower would fall and the Kingdom with it. To prevent such a catastrophe, a limited number is kept there and the wings of the birds are clipped by the Raven Master to prevent them from flying away.

Occasionally ravens have been dismissed for bad behaviour, their services therefore no longer required.

In March 2006 the ravens were moved inside and are kept in cages to protect them from the bird flu.

TERMINATOR, SON OF THE CITY

The Forum Stadtpark wants to build a 25-metre statue of Terminator in Schwarzenegger’s hometown Graz, Austria. They think it would improve the image of Graz and revitalize tourism, since he is the country’s biggest cultural export. The Russian artists Aristarkh Chernyshev and Vladislav Efimov proposed the “Monument to A. Schwarzenegger as Terminator T-800” in 2002. They write: ”In our view the tourism is a special form of colonialism. It gives birth to various tourist stereotypes that are very hard to get rid of.” The statue was proposed as an ”absurd construction destroying Austrian stereotypes”.

In 1997 the stadium in Graz was renamed after Schwarzenegger, but in Dec 2005

his name was removed by the city council due to Schwarzenegger’s stance on the death penalty as Governor of the State of California. He answered by withdrawing his permission for the city to use his name.
THE LIHULA MONSTER

An Estonian soldier in a WW II German uniform, resembling the SS-uniform, was unveiled in Lihula on August 20, 2004. A plaque on the monument read: "To Estonian men who fought in 1940-1945 against Bolshevism and for the restoration of Estonian independence."

The government, being under pressure from EU and the U.S. ordered the monument to be removed. This caused fierce protest and launched the so-called “war of monuments”. During the subsequent months various monuments dedicated to those who fought on the side of the Soviet Union were vandalized.
The governor of the Lihula parish defended the monument, saying it " is for people who had to choose between two

evils, and they chose the less evil one. They had already experience of the Soviet occupation, and they didn't want it to come back".
A very similar memorial was erected in Pärnu in 2002. The gun was pointing east towards Russia and the inscription read: "To all Estonian soldiers who died in the second war for the liberation of the fatherland and a free Europe in 1940-1945". It was also removed.

The ”Lihula monster” was later installed at the Museum of Estonian Fight for Freedom, a private museum in Lagedi, as “An Estonian Soldier in World War II”.

BRUCE LEE OF MOSTAR
A Bruce Lee Monument was erected November 27, 2005, in Veliki Park in the city of Mostar,
Bosnia. The city witnessed fierce fighting between rival ethnic factions in the 1992-95 war. It remains split with Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs still deeply divided.

Lee was chosen because of his appeal
as a hero with whom all ethnic groups could relate. "This does not mean that Bruce Lee will unite us, because people are different and cannot be united and we will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats," says Veselin Gatalo of Urban Movement Mostar, the group who initiated the monument.
The goals of Urban Movement are ”to develop critical mind and individual thinking, to demystify newly established national values and the media, and to put an end to urban devastation.”

MANNEKEN PIS, BRUSSELS’S OLDEST CITIZEN
It is not known when the first Manneken Pis in Brussels was made, but probably in the 15th century. Some say he is meant to symbolize the citizens’ lack of virtue. Others refer to a story about a man who had lost his little son visiting the big city. After several days of futile search he found his two-year-old calmly peeing on the street. To commemorate the happy moment a statue was erected.

Manneken Pis has often been hidden to
protect him against bombs and plundering soldiers. He has even been stolen by the citizens of Geraardsbergen, a city in Flanders that claims to possess the oldest statue of a peeing boy in Belgium.
At festive occasions he is dressed up in different costumes. He has about 500 garments, for instance an Elvis Presley outfit and a Mickey Mouse costume.

PETER THE GREAT IN MOSCOW
A 94-meter high bronze monument to Peter the Great, by the controversial artist Zurab Tsereteli was unveiled 1997 in Moscow. Some critics have suggested that the Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who commissioned the sculpture, is himself anxious to be a sort of latter-day Peter the Great. Ironically Peter hated Moscow and preferred to erect an entirely new capital – St. Petersburg.

Rumour has it that the statue was initially supposed to be of Columbus and offered to New York, but declined. Columbus’ head was thereafter exchanged for that of Peter's. True is that Tsereteli did make a statue of Columbus, which was
rejected by five U.S. states. It was eventually accepted by the Mayor of Cataño, Puerto Rico, but it sparked an outrage among indigenous people who stated: "To erect a monument to Columbus is the same as glorifying Adolf Hitler. This is a disgraceful act and clearly shows how little in the last 500 years human beings have progressed as far as education and sensitivity."

BRITNEY SPEARS AS A PRO-LIFE MONUMENT
In April 2006, a "Pro-Life monument to Birth" was for the first time exhibited at a Brooklyn gallery. It is a life-size sculpture of Britney Spears giving birth to Sean Preston, standing on all four on a bearskin rug.
”A superstar at Britney’s young age having a child is rare in today’s celebrity culture” said the co-director of the gallery. The artist Daniel Edwards explains: ”Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the right choice.

She was number one with Google last year, with good reason - people are inspired by the beauty of a pregnant woman.”

The Pro-Life movement is an anti-abortion movement and the sculpture was exhibited in a Pro-life show. The artist Daniel Edwards claims though, that the monument is not political.