The recently installed "Che" Guevara statue in New York's Central Park is presented as part of an ensemble consisting also of a statue of Julius Caesar and another of a character in a Dalí painting (the "Anthropomorphic Cabinet Woman"). The three statues constitute a single work of art though not joined in any way; the individual statues are, supposedly, meaningless outside the context of the greater work. You see, German sculptor Christian Jankowski isn't really honoring "Che" himself; oh no, he is simply articulating a convex message about the human condition which admits of infinite interpretations, sort of like Gertrude Stein's novels, or, indeed, Dalí's paintings. Except, of course, that the message here conveyed is not in the least surrealistic, nor obscured by layers of meaning ultimately signifying nothing. The so-called "ensemble" is nothing of the kind. The other statues are merely props intended to camouflage the "Che" statue. You could put up statues of the Great Khan and Tinker Bell and they would in nowise neutralize or subsume a statue of Adolph Hitler.
The significance of erecting a statue of Guevara (or Hitler) cannot be diluted into insignificance. All the window dressing in the world will not make it less objectionable or abhorrent. Of course, a statue of Adolph Hitler will never be erected in Central Park or anywhere else in New York City for reasons that need hardly be explained. New York City, more even than Israel or Germany, would not allow it, though there are no laws here forbidding it as there are in those countries. The crimes of "Che" Guevara are no more obscure than Hitler's; nor the blood that he shed less red. It must be his victims, then, who are unworthy of remembrance or respect. That such a mockery as this so-called "art display," which was imported from Barcelona (its first venue) for the purpose of exalting the "Butcher of the Cabaña," can pass unnoticed in a city where thousands will protest the removal of a bird's nest from its perch on the balustrade of a luxury apartment building, shows that humanity has blind spots that explain how decent men can be degraded by the likes of a Hitler or Guevara and society so desensitized as to make their recurrence possible if not inevitable.
Nowadays the barbarians at the gate are the purveyors and patrons of denatured art. Taxpayers, too, without their knowledge or against their consent, are forced by bureaucrats to underwrite art which attacks their values and degrades the human condition. The freedom to create has been transmogrified into the expectation of public support for artistic creation, and notoriety, not talent, made the touchstone of success. The precedent for the Guevara statue is Andrés Serrano's "Piss Christ" (a photograph of a crucifix immersed in the artist's urine), which was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum 20 years ago with a grant from the NEA. The desecration of the sublime is always followed by the exaltation of the inhuman.
Credit for this travesty goes to the Public Art Fund, the City of New York, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the New York Council for the Arts. The discredit, of course, belongs to all New Yorkers.
This gets more interesting by the minute. Now the artist claims that his statue is not really a representation of "Che" Guevara but of a lookalike dressed like Guevara. In that case he should have chiselled the imposter's name at the base of the statue, not "Che" Guevara's. I wonder if we can now expect a "faux Hitler" from Jankowski and what the reaction of the German government would be to it.