Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli is in the center of a public art controversy across the river in Bayonne, NJ, according to today's New York Times. In Art, or Something Like It, Brings Russian Leader to Bayonne, Jonathan Miller describes the struggle to find a site for Tsereteli's monument to the attacks of 11 September 2001. After Jersey City refused to accept the gift of the Russian government, Bayonne agreed to take it, but everyone is not pleased.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday in Bayonne, at the site of the former Military Ocean Terminal just across the Hudson from Lower Manhattan. It is slated to be dedicated on 11 September 2006.
Tsereteli has come up with a 106-foot bronze-plated slab with a cracked fissure and a 40-foot tall nickel teardrop called "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism." The teardrop will appear to cry as cooled water circulating through the memorial condenses and drips.
Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham initially accepted the memorial for his city, but when he died in office the city council refused to endorse it. Tseretli told the media yesterday that he himself sought a new locatoin because Mr. Cunninghams death 'saddened' the process," according to the Times. Bayonne Mayor Joseph V. Doria Jr. told the Times, however, "I personally think it's a beautiful piece of art."
Tsereteli is something of a controversial figure in Russia as well. Though he received so many major commissions that he was thought of as the offical sculptor of the city of Moscow, the Times points out that one critic has alled him a "genius of kitsch." Many others agree.
As mentioned previously on Slavs of New York (Slavic sculpture in Manhattan), one of Tsereteli's works stands on the grounds of the United Nations on Manhattans East Side. That statue, of St. George that sits on First Avenue near 48th Street.
(Photo: St. George from the New York City Public Art Curriculum)