The Santa Cruz, Bolivia mayor's office authorized what is being called "an agression" against public monuments. Fundación Risorio placed clown noses on public sculptures of historical figures along the city's first and second rings drawing public criticism. David Paz, who sculpted most of the monuments was angered. Institutions and citizens have greatly rejected this publicity stunt.
Photo: La Madre India (The Indian Mother). Sculptor David Paz was so angered he removed the clown noses from all the sculptures personally.
Fundación Risorio's publicity campaign has been qualified as an afront and agression against the history of Santa Cruz. It placed clown noses on symbolic monuments throughout Santa Cruz located along the first and second rings that circle the city. The Society for Geographic and Historical Studies qualified it as an "extravagance" authorized by the city government's Office of Culture.
National Director of Fundación Risorio, Ariel Viana, assured that the campaign was meant to "de-dramatize" the bad mood among citizens as a consequence of problems faced during daily living. "We're helping improve our people's mood", he said.
In addition, placing clown noses on monuments is a way to create expectation among the public before the arrival of Dr. Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams, who will be in Santa Cruz the 20th and 21st of July. "We have a permit for this and the city government is our accomplice," stated Viana.
The campaign wasn't funny to artist David Paz, who sculpted about 70% of the monuments affected. In his opinion, historical monuments shouldn't be subjected to mockery. "This doesn't get a smile from me at all. I'm very angry," said the sculptor.
"I'm really angry because these monuments reflect the spirit of our people. What they did is in very bad taste," said Paz.
Another who questioned the stunt was the director of the Museum of History and university professor Paula Peña. In her opinion, this type of action is unpleasant because it isn't correct to play around with history. "It was in very bad taste to make clowns out of the people who, for one reason or another, are represented in these monuments. There are other ways to promote activities and make people smile", said Peña, who is currently the only woman to chair the Bolivian Academy of History.
The Society for Geographical and Historical Studies of Santa Cruz issued a press release qualifying the stunt as "a lack of respect to these historical personages, the city, and its culture", and believes those responsible should explain this action which is qualifies as "unwonted, extravagant, and in poor taste. It isn't possible to use the figures of our founding fathers for commercial activities that are not at all related to what (the founding fathers) represent to our people," it expressed.
One of the authorities responsible is Juan Carlos Simoni, the city's director of heritage and culture who confirmed that the city government did authorize the publicity stunt. He argued that the activity did not affect the sculptures, were temporary, and that there was nothing wrong with it. Although he acknowledged that public monuments are frequently damaged, despite the fact that they are a part of the culture and identity of Santa Cruz.