Saturday, September 24, 2011

Marilyn Monroe Sculpture & Tribune Tower - Chicago

Seward Johnson's 26' tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe attracted all the tourists last weekend. There was a steady stream of people wishing to be photographed under her skirt and the antics that they would do for the camera proved to be amusing.

Consider the space between her legs a platform with constantly rotating groups of people who would pause to run their hands all over her and even lick her limbs. Given how scuffed her feet were, this surely wasn't a sanitary affair.

David C. Nolan would be proud.

The Tribune Tower flanks the square alongside the Marilyn Monroe sculpture and I became acquainted with its rock collection for the first time. At first this proved interesting but then it became a source of contention. Over the course of time, correspondents for the newspaper returned to Chicago with fragments of rocks from around the world. 136 of them, including a piece from the moon (on display in a glass window), adorn the walls. All was fine and dandy when they came from generic places like the Revolutionary Battlefield but...

... once the sources became more specific (temples, bridges, buildings in the Forbidden City), it took on this pilfering of national monuments activity that I became uncomfortable with. Here come the Americans with their pick-axes chipping off ornaments from a bridge to display on a skyscraper in Chicago.

Only one specified that it was removed during "reconstruction" and one can only assume that the others were taken illicitly. The fact that it was the White House, an iconic American work of architecture, that the Tribune Towers felt the need to clarify, cemented the thoughts that other country's national monuments did not matter (and were open for "ownership").

One of the most interesting possessions I have is a rock chipped off the Taj Mahal by my great-uncle who was stationed in India during WWII (from the "wunderkammer" above). I have a love hate relationship with this and it directly relates to the Tribune Tower collection. I hate the fact that Uncle Bill defaced a national monument for a souvenir (much like I presume some of these correspondents did when acquiring the rocks for their employer). On the other side of things, who has a piece of the Taj Mahal?

Well the Tribune Tower that's who. Now we are both pilfers of by association - it's hard to feel good about that. [Photo by RSSB]

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