Negotiating history: statues of past leaders bear the brunt of public anger

As activists around the world direct their anger at bronze depictions of despised leaders, Dali Tambo points out that the statues themselves are not the issue — it’s where they are displayed, and, crucially, what should be erected in their place

05 July 2020 - 00:04 By Dali Tambo

In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s character, speaking of the “Ministry of Truth”, says: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

A deep sense of joy has been experienced throughout history by those officials who erected statues of their heroes, placed them in public spaces and put them on pedestals — a joy matched only by the protesters who in later eras unofficially tore them down from their lofty perches.Monumental sculptural heritage has always had a social, psychological and political motivation beyond art...

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