The chain-link fence around the newly installed "Three Heads Six Arms Buddha" sculpture was finally taken down on Wednesday morning for its official unveiling in front of a number of dignitaries, including the Mayor who would be Lieutenant Governor.
Newsom idiotically quipped to the press that he was hoping for "something big, something 'impactful,' something controversial," but he hadn't seen any controversy so far. In truth, it has already started via the internet. On Christian survivalist sites, the statue is being looked upon as a representation of Maitreya, a harbinger of the Apocalypse as foretold in the Book of Revelation.
The traffic on this site has gone from the hundreds to the thousands over the last week because the statue installation was featured on stevequayle.com, a survivalist site hawking gold and doom out of Montana.
Wednesday evening featured an interview at the Asian Art Museum with the sculpture's creator, Zhang Huan (above, with his translator) and Jay Xu, the director of the museum. The artist's last appearance with the institution was before its move from Golden Gate Park where he engaged in an outrageous bit of performance art in 1999. In a funny and fascinating account by Jesse Hamlin in the SF Chronicle, Zhang Huan laid down on a cypress branch and had a pack of dogs lick hot dog puree off his naked body. One of them even bit him in the ass.
In the best account I've read about the statue and the artist so far, Jori Finkel in the Los Angeles Times writes:
"Perhaps the biggest difference was the artwork itself: a child-friendly, plaza-ready sculpture, from one of China's most radical artists. Zhang described this shift in his work, which has been all the talk of the art world, during his brief comments at this ceremony. "I spent more than 10 years doing performance art," he said through a translator. "I was young and energetic, and I had strong hormones in my body, so I wanted to use them up. Now I'm 45, and my hormone levels are dropping."
My reaction to the statue is simple aesthetic happiness. Its scale in relation to people staring open-mouthed around it is fun and the light off its copper sheen is beautiful, changing with the time of day.