Magazine article The New Yorker

MONUMENT; on the Waterfront; on the Waterfront

Magazine article The New Yorker

MONUMENT; on the Waterfront; on the Waterfront

Article excerpt

France gave us the Statue of Liberty. Now Russia has given us "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism," another XXL, in-a-class-of-its-own monument. If you have not seen it, that may be because you haven't recently approached New York City by ship. For those coming in from the Atlantic, through the Narrows, the Russian gift now heaves into view well before Lady Liberty. That is intentional, according to Zurab Tsereteli, the Moscow-based sculptor who created the monument. "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" stands at the end of a long, man-made peninsula in Bayonne, New Jersey, and it looks from a distance like a giant tea biscuit. As you get closer, however, you will begin to make out an immense, stainless-steel teardrop--the Tear of Grief--hanging in a jagged crack that runs down the middle of the main slab. That's when you'll know that you're not looking at some ordinary bronze-sheathed, hundred-and-seventy-five-ton afternoon snack.

Tsereteli's inspiration came, he says, on September 11, 2001. "I saw the people gathered around the American Embassy," he said recently from Moscow. "The tear that came out of my eye and fell, that gave me the idea for the monument." Tsereteli, who is seventy-three and bogglingly prolific, flew to New York, visited Ground Zero, and decided that it wasn't the appropriate place for the sculpture. He pitched it to Jersey City, where the mayor loved it.

But then the mayor died, and objections to the planned monument surfaced. A Jersey City artists' organization, for instance, called it "an insensitive, self-aggrandizing piece of pompousness by one of the world's blatant self-promoters." The project was put on hold. This was in 2004. Then it turned out that Bayonne, a city where artists do not exert undue influence, was in the market for a 9/11 memorial. Bayonne had only forty thousand dollars to spend, however. No problem, Tsereteli said. He would pay for "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" himself.

In the sweep of Tsereteli's career, the contretemps in Jersey City was a micro-skirmish. (His enemies once tried to blow up a three-hundred-foot-tall statue of "Peter the Great," which includes an enormous bronze galleon and now dominates the skyline of central Moscow.) He has decorated Soviet embassies around the world, won the Lenin Prize, and served as People's Artist of the U.S.S.R. He was Chief Artist of the Moscow Olympics. A minor planet has been named after him. (It's between Mars and Jupiter.) He is the president of the Russian Academy of the Arts, and in the Zurab Tsereteli Gallery, in Moscow, there stands today a statue of the judo master Vladimir Putin, barefoot and looking good. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.