Leonidas @ Sparta Place

Now Brunswick has a statue of King Leonidas of Sparta in Sparta Place off Sydney Road. The statue has been the subject of local controversy,  it is disliked by the local traders, and created as part of the junket politics of sister cities.

Petros Georgariou – King Leonidas 2009

Greek artist Petros Georgariou sculpted the bust of King Leonidas, in a retrograde and conservative nationalist-realist style. The modeling of the bust is crude and stiff. The statute’s black marble plinth, a material alien to the local area, makes it look like a tomb. Not content to leave the 2005 remodelling of Sparta Place alone, the statue has been erected right in the middle of the mall. The placement of the plinth and style of the statue clashes with the existing contemporary style statue in the mall, New Order by Louise Lavarack. There are a lot of things wrong with the statue but not as many as the things wrong with the politicians who commission it.

Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony argues that Sparta could not be understood before Stalin. “Lycurgus was the first to compose a world that excluded the world: Spartan society. He was the first person to conduct experiments on the body social, the true fore-father all modern rulers, even if they don’t have the impact of a Lenin or a Hitler, try to imitate.” Sparta always acted in their “national interest” and would kill and enslave to achieve this end.

Mayor Lambros Tapinos said the statue symbolized “the contribution of the Greek community and its vibrant history within our municipality”. Other local politicians, like Cr Ange Kenos, have also praised King Leonidas for his defense “of human rights.”  To dismiss these politicians as stupid and ignorant is to be generous or sympathetic to them, these are the kind of people who would help another Hitler and Stalin to power. I’m sure that as a politician Mayor Tapinos has learnt the highest rule of Sparta society: you can do anything; steal, rape and kill, just don’t get caught. Laconophilia may be popular but it is also amoral and delusional.

I have written about Coburg’s multiple sister city junket politics before in regards to the use of the arts: see Man of the Valley and Cross Currents @ Moreland Civic Centre.  I have been unimpressed with the artistic standard of these exchanges and I have seen no other evidence of any value to the City of Moreland’s three sister city relationships.

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About Mark Holsworth

Arts administrator, artist, musician, philosopher and writer. Writes Black Mark - Melbourne Art and Culture Critic. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

6 responses to “Leonidas @ Sparta Place

  • barrybubba

    go the greeks and their crazy concreting ways

  • pbeekman

    Interesting comments – certainly there seems to be a bit of historical revisionism going on here if our councillors are praising the ancient Spartans for their human rights record! Their record with the treatment of the Helot peasant / slave class alone stands as testimony to some issues in that regard – whether judged by modern or even ancient standards, there were a cruel and uncompromising group in this respect. So what is there to glorify or redeem as a contemporary message from this ancient society? Toughness and brute power, perhaps. Apart from this, I can’t agree more – what an inappropriately unpleasant, unimaginative and conservative piece for contemporary Brunswick.

  • Zihao

    thank you so much, very intersting and useful imformation for my report, but i’ve found a mistake, the photos of John Pascoe Fawkner and John Batman are wrong, i think u put their name with wrong picture.

  • Heroes of Every Nation « Black Mark

    [...] Daniel O’Connell for the Irish, General Gordon for the English, Dante Alighieri for the Italians, King Leonidas for the Spartans in Brunswick and General Sun Yat Sen in Chinatown. The existence and location of the statues [...]

  • Of Mall & Place | Black Mark

    […] written blog entries about both of these malls in 2009: Leonidas @ Sparta Place and Victoria Street Mall […]

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