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Freddie Mercury statue by Irena Sedlecka in Switzerland
Freddie Mercury statue by Irena Sedlecka in Switzerland


Sept. 7, 2011

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Twenty years since Freddie Mercury’s death, London-based artist Aleksandra Mir is waging a campaign to return a bronze statue of the rockstar to his native U.K. In 1991, the year of Mercury’s death, his bandmates in Queen, along with executors of his estate, commissioned the statue by Czech sculptor Irena Sedlecka. Sedlecka, who had built many large-scale Socialist Realist works before escaping the Communist regime in 1966, had no problem rendering a triumphant, fist-pumping Mercury that does justice to his energetic performances.

Nonetheless, the Westminster Council rejected the statue, as did several other public-art bodies in London, and the work ultimately went to Montreux, Switzerland, where Queen kept a recording studio. To some, the decision seemed rooted in homophobia and fear of AIDS. Now Mir has started a petition to borrow the statue from its home facing Lake Geneva and to mount it on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square for one year.

The petition, which has been signed stateside by Adam McEwen and Michael Bilsborough, among others, sets out “to honor both Freddie Mercury’s and Irena Sedlecka’s artistic legacies; as an exploration of the connections between socialist realism and glam rock; to contemplate the void created by all silences; and to channel love through the celebration and sheer expression of life.”

Monday would have been Mercury’s 65th birthday.

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