Christopher Columbus statue replaced with monument to Indigenous women – ARTnews.com
An important statue of Christopher Columbus that once stood in one of Mexico City’s busiest avenues, Paseo de la Reforma, is set to be replaced with a memorial by Mexican sculptor Pedro Reyes honoring indigenous women, the city’s mayor has announced , Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo.
The 19th century bronze figure was frequently the target of demonstrators, who denounced the role of the Italian navigator in the colonization of the Americas. Last October, it was removed by city authorities ahead of a planned restoration, which hinted that it would not return to its place at the 10-lane roundabout.
On Sunday, during an event to mark International Indigenous Women’s Day, Mayor Sheinbaum Pardo said the new statue will honor influential women in Mexican history.
“We owe it to them. We exist because of them, ”she said. “This is the story of our country and our homeland.” The new monument is expected to be erected by October 12, which is recognized in the United States as Christopher Columbus Day but known in Mexico as Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race.
The announcement follows a global count with monuments honoring historical figures linked to white supremacy and colonial violence. Galvanized by the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, protesters have disfigured or toppled statues in major cities around the world; in a widely shared video, a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol was dumped in a harbor.
The monuments to Christopher Columbus have been the subject of debate for at least a century, with many decrying his role as a driving force in the Native American genocide and the transatlantic slave trade. Last year, statues of the Italian navigator were toppled and beheaded in several cities across the United States amid a growing push to abolish the federal holiday commemorating his arrival in the Caribbean in 1492.
In Mexico City, protesters denouncing the European suppression of Native American civilizations have gathered at the statue on the public holiday each year, often disfiguring it with spray paint. When the statue was taken down last year, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that “it is a very controversial date and lends itself to conflicting ideas and political conflict”.
Pedro Reyes, who was commissioned to create the new monument, baptized Tlalli (or “land” in the Nahuatl language), would represent an Olmec woman, according to the Mexican media El Universal. The Olmecs are among the oldest inhabitants of Mesoamerica and lived throughout present-day Mexico.
“It is very important to dedicate a monument to indigenous women and to the Earth, because if anyone can teach us to take care of this planet, it is our indigenous peoples, and this is precisely what we have to relearn”, Reyes said.
The statue of Christopher Columbus will be relocated to a smaller location in a small park in the Polanco district.