Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Statues & Self-Worth

Another year, another Jesus statue.

In November 2010, Poland launched their bid for the Guinness Book of Records with their 33m tall Pomnik Chrystusa Króla, Christ the King. Some people claim that it is the tallest statue of Jesus in the world, others say that the 2m high golden crown that takes it over the limit disqualifies it. Either way, the statue is a winner for the town of Swiebodzin and its 21,000 people. Catholic pilgrims now travel from far and wide to look at a plaster and fibreglass statue stuck on top of a mound of rubble. The recent benefits to the local economy may mean that he is not alone for long as an Absurdly Tall Jesus Statue in a Small Eastern European Town.

Now Peru wants to get in on the act. Lima is constructing its own statue of Jesus on Morro Solar just to the end of Lima’s main beaches, south of the city and the touristic districts of Miraflores and Barranco. The colossal statue is a pet project of the colossal ego (according to Wikileaks’ US Diplomatic Cables) of Alan Garcia. The President of Peru has decided to leave a gift to his nation, although he somehow seems to have managed to sneak in a whole statue and put it on a prominent city hill without anybody else in the city knowing, including the mayor.

Limeño Jesus was just about all paid for by the Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht, who were also given the contract to build the trans-continental highway that recently connected the two countries. Before you can say ‘condition-of-the-bid’, the million dollar man will be up and looking out to sea, while Limeños look at him from all over the city.

The statue will bear a close resemblance to our very own Cristo, and at 37m tall will be very nearly 7m taller, not counting plinths of course. This fact alone may prove to some that the statue will be far more of a tribute to The President himself than to the relationship of his country with Brazil, but reports of the statue bearing a very close resemblance to Alan Gabriel Ludwig Garcia Perez are surely way off the mark. At least until he grows a beard perhaps.

So Lima Jesus will be the tallest Jesus statue in the world, taking the crown (ha!) from Cristo de la Concordia of Cochabamba in Bolivia... of course... you all knew that, right? Like quest to build the tallest building in the world, or the US/Soviet Union Arms Race, this Largest Jesus Statue competition seems to have grown legs (another ha!) and could be just as pointless and seemingly endless as the other two.

So many towns and cities around the world want to have their own Jesus statue, and I’ve seen a few in South America of very differing qualities, including the marvellously tacky Cristo Luz in Balneario Camboriu, Santa Catarina.

We all know that none of them can remotely compare to the best though.

The beauty of Cristo Redentor on top of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro lies not just in the originality, the fine art deco lines of the statue itself, his iconic status or his age. As with property, it is location, location, location. The crazy idea that putting an enormous statue on top of a just about vertical 710m high mountain takes Cristo to places which other Jesus statues can’t reach. He is also far less intrusive up there, especially as a ghostly presence at night with swirling clouds. At Carnaval time he lights up in different colours. There are some tourist attractions in the world that are tourist attractions for a reason, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio is definitely one of them. The views of the city are incomparable, perhaps only Cape Town has similar views from so high up, right on top of the city. With such a wonderful location, the Rio Jesus should be clearly the Best Jesus Statue in the World, and size does not always matter. Neither does the fact that he disappears from view occasionally in the clouds of Tijuca Forest.

But he still isn’t the best. He isn’t the only one who disappears from view regularly. The Buenos Aires Jesus in the Tierra Santa Park also appears and disappears. I choke with laughter every time I see him rise. Unbeatable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ricky. I've just read an article of yours on Brazilian couples. I would just like to say... you suck big time. Please give up on writing.