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Statues of limitations

Oliver Graves is a stand-up comic and “internet celebrity” (not his words, but hey, it’s true) who can be followed on Instagram and Facebook, or through this website OliverGraves.com. ’Oliver’s World,’ which debuted two weeks ago, now runs every-other-week in the Argus-Courier.

Statues should be alive.

No, I'm not here to rally for street performers to take over the role of our monuments. I’ve been a living statue before. You may have seen me standing around and not moving. It's a lot like waiting in line, except no one else is doing it with you and there's no reason to be waiting at all.

“Are we supposed to aspire to be like these statues?” says Graves. “I’ve done it. It;s very boring.”
“Are we supposed to aspire to be like these statues?” says Graves. “I’ve done it. It;s very boring.”

Never moving, not going anywhere?

I've done it. It's very boring.

I do think leaving concrete pedestals empty for such artists to stand on and fill those voids is a fine idea, but I have a more metaphorical thought at the moment.

When we build a structure to commemorate a person, we make something out of bronze (or whatever) in an attempt immortalize them. A statue is meant to be this capture of a moment. They are still and yet everything around them grows and moves.

Are we supposed to aspire to be like these statues?

Never moving, not going anywhere?

I've done it. It's very boring.

I think about the statue of liberty.

Everyone knows her as green, unless you're just learning your colors and this is news to you. When she was first put up, she was copper. Over time in the ocean air, she turned green. Now she's an older lady and the truth is, she's had some work done.

When they do restoration they add pieces that have been treated so they are also green. I think they should add fresh pieces. Let them be the copper brown color, and let them age naturally.

The Statue of Liberty has changed colors (and meanings) from the very very beginning.
The Statue of Liberty has changed colors (and meanings) from the very very beginning.

We’re not talking about a piece of art that is done and hung in a gallery. It has to be maintained. Lets not hide the work. Let's show it and be proud of it.

Let her be alive.

In the artistic sense.

I'm not hoping the Ghostbusters will show up and actually get her moving.

But I guess with the Statue of Liberty, and many others, it's not really handled like art. It's more a construction issue. Most commissioned statues aren't really art. How do you know if the statue of some historical figure you're looking at was made by a person who was inspired by their spirit - or if it was just paid for by a sponsor.

We eventually hit a point where these things are factory made. It's not an artisan saving some marble and finding the right way to put in the right detail so the eyes look real. I can't consider a city-installed statue all on it's own to be art.

Lady Liberty comes alive in “Ghostbusters II”
Lady Liberty comes alive in “Ghostbusters II”

When people respond to these metal mannequins with their own symbols on top of it, though, that is keeping the piece alive. Someone’s emotional response to it is a bigger artistic interpretation than an alloy apparition.

If a statue is covered in graffiti, that is a very alive piece and something to take note of. I'm not saying we should necessarily keep it covered. These are not free canvases for anyone to plaster over.

I'm just not offended by it.

Maybe for a good while we should keep them decorated with how a community saw fit to adorn it at a particular moment in time. If people do not wish it to be that way, they can clean it. If the structure must stay, if we insist a statue is going to have be a part of our community, we probably should be willing to accept the way the community grows and responds to it.

Oliver Graves is a stand-up comic and “internet celebrity” (not his words, but hey, it’s true) who can be followed on Instagram and Facebook, or through this website OliverGraves.com. ’Oliver’s World,’ which debuted two weeks ago, now runs every-other-week in the Argus-Courier.

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