Today I was looking for alternative news outlets, and I came a link to the dated article, Museum [The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center] Proposes Melting Lee Statue to Make New Artwork, Oct. 21, 2021, Bloomberg, US edition. Which piqued my interest for one reason: as a variation on the postmodern project—destroying an artwork to create something else.
The museum had already secured pledges of $590,000 from The Memory Project at UVa’s Democracy Initiative, Open Society Foundations (George Soros funded), and Virginia Humanities. Apparently it would cost a million dollars to make a new artwork from the old one.
From the 2020s The Robert E. Lee Monument became a center for rallying cries of racial injustice. It was period when riots broke-out after the death of George Floyd. During this period there was nationwide destruction of public art sculptures. [I don’t think any government should support the arts, they have a nasty tendency to use it as propaganda, but public art is historically a reflection of culture.] One particularly pathetic person emerged from this destructive rioting, Dr. Sarah Parcak, an Egyptologist.
On Parcak’s twitter account she gave detailed instructions on how to topple obelisks, thinly veiled as how to bring down “racist” monuments such as the confederate one in Birmingham, Alabama. I believe the tweets are still live on her account, but I include screenshots to be safe. Parcak is a recipient of 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship award, along with a lot of unsavory artists, which I highlight here.
In 2015, she also won a million dollar Ted award, but she has other controversies, such as making claims that simply are proven untrue. From Wikipedia:
In May 2011, the BBC aired a documentary, Egypt’s Lost Cities, describing BBC-sponsored research carried out by Parcak’s UAB team for over a year using infra-red satellite imaging from commercial and NASA satellites. The programme discussed the research and showed Parcak in Egypt looking for physical evidence. The UAB team announced that they had “discovered” 17 pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements outside Sa el-Hagar, Egypt. However, the Minister of State for Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, was critical of the announcement and said: “This is completely wrong information. Any archeologist will deny this completely”.
She seems to have been a good pioneer of using satellite images to find sites, but it is too bad that she cannot use it to see her duplicity. It doesn’t get any more painfully hypocritical than for an archaeologist, whose aim is to discover and protect historical sites and artifacts, to also give instructions on how to destroy historical sites and artifacts. I can’t imagine someone hating themselves so much as to destroy art they have sworn to protect. But this kind of hatred for values, art, and self are classic postmodern aesthetics.
Ultimately, the The Robert E. Lee Monument, was not melted down but donated to The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. But in my most satirical mood I think it was a terrible choice, because they could have turned it into postmodern masterpiece. Postmodernism is distinguished by its clever snarkiness, cynicism, destruction of art, and complete lack of artistic self-esteem. A magnificent concept would have been to melt down the Lee sculpture and recast the metal as a monumental turd.
Think how brilliantly that would complement Duchamp’s Urinal, Silvestre’s Canned Shit, Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning, McCarthy‘s self abasement, Kant‘s aesthetic nihilism and envy, Creed’s farting, and Parcaks’s disgrace.
People wonder why the world, children, policies, work, and culture are so confused. The postmodern ideology, propagated by institutions like the CIA, has created a massive BlackOp on humanity, with the aim to destroy psychological self-confidence (they cannot manipulate anyone that has a sprit of self-esteem). The antidotes to it are reason, flourishing as the standard, and figurative art. Perhaps, figurative art is the most important. It literally integrates mind, emotion, and senses into a whole package, giving the viewer the experience of what a whole person feels like.
Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, June 4, 2022.
Frame of References:
The Associated Press. October 21, 2021. Museum Proposes Melting Lee Statue to Make New Artwork. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-21/museum-proposes-melting-lee-statue-to-make-new-artwork
Bolstad, Erika. PEW, May 23, 2022. In Replacing Monuments, Communities Reconsider How the West Was Won. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2022/05/23/in-replacing-monuments-communities-reconsider-how-the-west-was-won
Caudell-Feagan, Michael. Executive vice president and chief program officer of The Pew Charitable Trusts and oversees all of Pew’s programmatic work, including research, technical assistance, and advocacy campaigns in the United States and abroad. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/leadership/michael-caudell-feagan
Liu, Jasmine. Hyperallergic, December 10, 2021. Melted Down and Turned Into a New Artwork. https://hyperallergic.com/699297/robert-e-lee-monument-will-be-melted-down-and-turned-into-a-new-artwork/
CBS 19 News. April 12, 2022 (?). Hearing set for lawsuit to stop Jefferson School from melting down Lee statue. https://www.cbs19news.com/story/46278402/hearing-set-for-lawsuit-to-stop-jefferson-school-from-melting-down-lee-statue
Robert E. Lee Monument (Richmond, Virginia). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E.Lee_Monument(Richmond,_Virginia)
Gershon, Livia. Smithsonian Magazine, January 5, 2022. Richmond’s Robert E. Lee Statue Is Headed to a Black History Museum. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/richmond-confederate-monuments-headed-to-black-history-museum-180979319/
Parcak, Sarah. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Parcak
Parcak, Sarah. Twitter thread, “how to pull down an oblelisk.” https://twitter.com/indyfromspace/status/1267271817439346689?lang=en
Burch, Audra D. S. The New York Times, June 2, 2020. Birmingham Mayor Orders Removal of Confederate Monument in Public Park. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/us/george-floyd-birmingham-confederate-statue.html
Robinson, Carol. AL, June 1, 2020. Watch: Birmingham taking down Confederate monument. https://www.al.com/news/2020/06/watch-live-birmingham-taking-down-confederate-monument.html