Controversy over a new public statue in front of Rotterdam Central Station, “Moments Contained,” erupted as soon as it was unveiled. The statue was designed by British artist Thomas J. Price and inaugurated on June 2.
The thirteen-foot statue depicts an anonymous black female walking away from the Rotterdam Central Station wearing Nike tennis shoes, sweatpants and a T-shirt. She’s not on a pedestal but standing directly on the pavement on the same level as pedestrians. Her face emits a slightly resentful expression. Her clenched fists in her pockets seem to indicate that she just had (or is about to have) an angry altercation with someone. Many Dutch on Twitter and elsewhere expressed disgust for the statue, calling it “tasteless” and “pointless,” while others called it “beautiful.”
“Moments Contained” is the latest “woke” assault on traditional Dutch culture and identity. It is not true art but a totem of political correctness and progressive ideology.
Here are six reasons why the statue should be removed:
- It is a totem of the race-obsessed woke ideology
Like all modern art, “Moments Contained” does not exist to transmit timeless principles of beauty or the best expression that a particular culture has to offer. Rather, it was made to convey a political ideology—in this case, the hateful, race-obsessed principles of wokeism.
According to the woke ideology, every aspect of Western culture and the Christian religion—morality, the family, law, hierarchical structures, private property or national borders—are expressions of “white supremacy” in which the European male dominates and oppresses all other peoples, “genders” and races. Everything from music to architecture to cuisine must be seen through the prism of race and sex. Western civilization, therefore, must be “decolonized,” “deconstructed,” and destroyed. It is neo-Marxism, which uses peoples of non-European origin as the new proletariat and demonizes European, Western and Christian culture and civilization as the new oppressor.
The artist, Thomas J. Price, indicated that his artwork is intended to promote this sense of class and racial conflict. “’Moments Contained,’” he said, “is about the experience of being labeled as ‘the other,’ about the strength of the individual despite predetermined attitudes towards status and value.” In other words, the supposed oppression that immigrants experience living in the Netherlands.
Price has made other statues with similar messages. In 2020, his statue “Reaching Out” was installed in London, which depicts a ten-foot tall black “everywoman” staring into her smartphone. According to Price, it is intended to “critique the notion of portraiture and monumentalism, as well as the value systems they reinforce within society.” Which “monumentalism” and “value systems” are those? He means Western, and therefore Christian, values. In an interview with the Guardian, Price said his art exists to overthrow “racist tropes and racist hierarchies.” Old European art must be swept away to make way for new, politicized, woke art. “Why are objects or paintings seen to be permanent? It is not the erasure of history; it is the creation of a new future,” he said.
Price says: “I’ve placed my work in public space before, and I love that it makes people aware of the things that have surrounded us for centuries, thousands of years—often images of powerful men. The scale of the work is there to challenge our current conceptions of outdoor art; who is allowed to be seen? Who should be represented?”
In an interview with curator Shehera Grot published in the magazine Kunstbode, Price further explains the woke ideology behind his art. “My sculptures respond to traditional, historical statues. These images often confirm the power structures that still exist in our society today. These monuments are placed on pedestals to remind us that they are lofty individuals with lofty ideals. I refuse to place my works on pedestals because I want them to be on the ground. With my work, I want to encourage conversations about shared values, characteristics, emotions, and personalities. My aim is to share the space with these images to come to shared ground, literally and figuratively.”
- It has no connection whatsoever to Rotterdam or the Netherlands
True art should reflect the best that a particular people has to offer. It is a window into a unique culture and a way of seeing the good, true, and beautiful in everyday things, both great and small. Dutch artists have often taken material from Christian beliefs or history for their works. Indeed, many of the greatest works of art ever made were linked to Christianity, the predominant religion of the Netherlands. Masters such as Rembrandt or Vermeer are timeless precisely because they were able to portray the reality of the Dutch culture and soul in such an excellent, expressive way. They enriched the Netherlands and helped make it into one of the great artistic nations of the world.
“Moments Contained” has no connection whatsoever with Rotterdam, the Netherlands, or any specific place. There is no clear indication of where the woman comes from or what culture she belongs to. Her clothing is sportswear that can be found in every country in the world. Was she born in Rotterdam or anywhere in the Netherlands? Does she even speak Dutch? There is no way to know, and that is precisely the point. Price deliberately made the statue to be an anonymous, everyday person who represents everyone and no one at the same time. She is the perfect representation of the globalized masses, without culture, family, a past or a future.
As mentioned above, the statue is virtually identical to Price’s “Reaching Out,” which was installed in London in 2020. Both are also nearly identical to his statues currently on display at an art gallery in Los Angeles, California, called “Beyond Measure.” Price’s statues are not true art but rather a form of globalist anti-art.
- It is in very poor taste
Even from a purely artistic level, “Moments Contained” is in poor taste. She is a woman but does not express anything of traditional femininity. Her clothing has no elegance or taste but is provocatively proletarian, as if she just finished a workout or went for a run. While a traditional statue exudes confidence, happiness or satisfaction, her facial expression is ambiguous, hinting that she’s angry about something. There is nothing in the figure that would indicate any extraordinary artistic ability.
- It is an anti-monument to an anti-hero.
As a person without identity, country, family or past, “Moments Contained” is also a person without any accomplishments or heroic deeds worthy of being commemorated by a statue. Traditional statues of historical figures were not built at random. The figures they portrayed performed decisive roles in the country’s history worthy of respect and admiration. Every culture, without exception, has heroes considered worthy of imitation.
Price himself has said that his art exists to “critique the notion of portraiture and monumentalism,” that is, to reject the very idea that great men and women exist and should be imitated. It is essentially a war of egalitarian mediocrity against excellence. The notion of a hero presupposes that others are not heroes, which irritates the egalitarian spirit of progressives like Price.
Woke artists prefer to see all heroes overthrown and replaced with the lowest common denominator. Price deliberately designed the statue to stand on the ground instead of on a pedestal to evoke her ordinariness. “Moments Contained” is, therefore, an anti-monument to an anti-hero. “Often the most powerful person in the room is the person in the background, or fiddling, or not sitting bolt upright smiling,” he told The Guardian. It is in the same egalitarian spirit as the silly and patently untrue Rotterdam slogan for Kings Day 2023: “We are all kings & queens.”
As Rosanne Hertzberger wrote in NRC: “There is only one thing worse than false meritocracy, and that is no meritocracy at all. A statue for everyone is an insult to people who do heroic deeds.”
- It teaches Dutch citizens to hate each other based on race
As “Moments Contained” does not have any artistic merit nor reflect any great historical personage, its main purpose is to promote woke ideology. Price portrays the woman as “the Other” who is excluded by the dominant Dutch society. It is a call for passersby to think of themselves as members of a class: either the dominant, oppressor class (“white” Europeans) or the oppressed class (“brown” immigrants or their descendants). In the words of critical theorist Paulo Freire, this art piece serves to “conscientize” people about supposed “systematic injustices” in Dutch society.
From this, it is a short step to inciting conflict and even hatred between fellow citizens, who will begin to see themselves as members of either the dominant or oppressed class. The clenched fists in the pockets of “Moments Contained” gives a not-so-subtle hint that she might even be contemplating violence against her “oppressor.” Should other “oppressed” citizens do the same? Public art should unify society, but “Moments Contained” divides Rotterdam and the Netherlands.
- It has nothing to do with helping end “discrimination” or “racism.”
Christian Europe was the first continent in world history to eliminate slavery and the slave trade. There is a reason so many African and Middle Eastern migrants want to go to the West and not, for example, to China or Saudi Arabia: Europe is a very agreeable place to live where the vast majority are treated with respect and dignity.
Christianity has always taught that hatred of someone for their race is an evil. The Catholic Church has elevated many black, Middle Eastern, Asian and American Indian Catholics to sainthood and was at the forefront of bringing the Faith and Christian civilization to the four corners of the earth. Dutch culture, still under the residual influence of Christianity, is among the least racist in the world.
True racism, like other social evils, has always existed and will always exist in a fallen, imperfect world. But it is a lie to say that European society is “systematically racist.” This is especially true when persecution exists in much of the developing world. For example, the United Nations estimates that there are 50 million people in slavery today, mostly in Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East. In Islamic Mauritania, 20% of the population is estimated to be slaves.
Woke progressives like Price use words such as “racism,” “discrimination,” and “hate,” but the definitions they give those words do not correspond to their actual dictionary definition. Take “racism.” Price and others believe that Europe and the West are the most “racist” places in the world. But is that true?
To most people, “racism” means disliking another person because of their skin color. But to progressives, “racism” means the existence of any form of inequality, private property, traditional family, hierarchy, excellence, or traditional culture. The “Black Lives Matter” movement that appeared in the United States in 2020—whose founders call themselves “trained Marxists” —published a statement of “guiding principles” that attacked as “racist” what it called “cis-gender privilege,” “heteronormative thinking,” and the “Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” BLM inspired woke movements in Europe seeking to overthrow traditional European culture, the family, and, yes, statues.
“Moments Contained” is a symbol of the worldwide woke revolution. Wokeism seeks to utterly overthrow traditional Dutch culture and impose radical racialized politics, gender ideology, the LGBT revolution, radical ecology and the elimination of national sovereignty. Dutch citizens of all races and colors should demand that it be removed.