Gi­ant nude statue in Calif is stir­ring con­tro­versy

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

SAN LE­AN­DRO, CAL­I­FOR­NIA: There have long been complaints about the lack of women in the tech in­dus­try. Now there’s a tow­er­ing fe­male fig­ure, in a tech park across the bay from San Fran­cisco, al­though not quite what some peo­ple had in mind. A 55-foot tall statue of a nude woman un­veiled this week in the work­ing­class com­mu­nity of San Le­an­dro is stir­ring con­tro­versy and a lot of con­ver­sa­tion.

The statue - roughly three times as tall as Michelan­gelo’s David - is made of steel mesh in the form of a grace­ful dancer, with an arched back and arms stretched over­head. At the base of the statue is a mes­sage in 10 lan­guages that says: “What would the world be like if women were safe?”

The de­bate is not over the statue’s artis­tic merit or its mes­sage of fe­male em­pow­er­ment, which is aimed at the general pub­lic, not the tech in­dus­try. It cen­ters on whether the 13,000-pound nude is ap­pro­pri­ate in pub­lic.

“If she’s a bal­le­rina, she should have some clothes on,” said Tonette Watts, 57, a res­i­dent and mother of a teen girl, who stopped and stared at the statue on her way to work. “If you’ve got kids you do not want them see­ing that.” An­other par­ent, Keith Verville, 48, stud­ied the sculp­ture and then asked: “Why is it so big? And SO not clothed?” The statue, called “Truth is Beauty,” is on pri­vate prop­erty at the edge of a new tech of­fice com­plex - in a highly traf­ficked and vis­i­ble area just across from San Le­an­dro’s com­muter rail sta­tion.

Re­flec­tion of change?

Many peo­ple, in­clud­ing city of­fi­cials, have wel­comed the statue as a re­flec­tion of the chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics in San Le­an­dro, where young mil­len­ni­als now out­num­ber older res­i­dents. “This is some­thing I’d never have thought would come to San Le­an­dro,” said Mayor Pauline Russo Cut­ter. “It’s edgy and mod­ern, and it makes me proud.” The statue de­buted in 2013 at Burn­ing Man, the an­nual coun­ter­cul­ture cel­e­bra­tion in the Ne­vada desert. It was then bought by de­vel­op­ers of the com­plex, for a price they haven’t dis­closed, un­der a re­quire­ment by the city to in­clude pub­lic art at the site. Cut­ter said some city of­fi­cials ini­tially weren’t thrilled by the choice but ul­ti­mately liked the idea of start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about art. The mayor says the statue sends a pow­er­ful mes­sage of fe­male strength that’s more ap­par­ent when seen up close. The sculp­tor, Marco Cochrane, says he was marked as a child by the rape of a neigh­bor­hood friend and tries through art to bring at­ten­tion to sex­ual as­sault and to the fear of many women, but also to the strength women feel when not afraid.

—AP

SAN LE­AN­DRO, CAL­I­FOR­NIA: In this photo taken Wed­nes­day Oct. 19, 2016, art teach­ers Jo Sut­ton, left, and Jen­nifer Jervis, right, take pic­tures be­neath a 55-foot nude statue.

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