NEW YORK — Weeks after it was first displayed on the Visitors Plaza outside the United Nations headquarters in November, the controversial “Guardian for International Peace and Security” sculpture many Christians likened to a biblical “End Times beast” is now gone.
Initial reports to The Christian Post suggested that the sculpture was removed from the Visitor’s Plaza in late December due to complaints from the public. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary-general, explained, however, that the display was temporary and was removed as scheduled.
“The statue you refer to was a temporary exhibit organized by the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations. It was taken down, as scheduled and anticipated, on 20 December,” Dujarric said in a statement to CP on Monday.
Conservative Christian frenzy over the artwork began brewing after the U.N. tweeted an image of the exhibit on Nov. 9, prompting references to certain scriptures in the Bible, including Daniel 7:2–4 which highlights a vision of beasts, representing governments; one of which is depicted with a body like a lion and wings like an eagle.
Christians also cited Revelation 13:2 which symbolically refers to a beast given power and authority by Satan. Further reference was also made to I Thessalonians 5:3 which speaks of the End Times when people will say, “There is peace and security,” only to experience unexpected ruin.
The sculpture, donated by the government of Oaxaca, Mexico, and created by artists Jacobo and Maria Angeles, is likely not the harbinger of the apocalypse some Christians presume.
The fantastical fusion of features in the controversial sculpture from both the jaguar and eagle is known as an Alebrije — a representation of a mythical spirit guide found in Oaxacan folk art. Along with vibrant color markings, Alejibres usually have a combination of features such as horns, antlers, wings and fins.
Prior to the display of the Guardian for International Peace and Security at the U.N., it was on display along with an 11-foot dragon sculpture at the Rockefeller Center from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2 as part of the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead celebrations, Hyperallergic reported.
The Angeles’ son, Ricardo Angeles, who was identified as the principal designer of the Alebrijes, referred to them as “guardians” for the nation’s immigrants.
“I love New York and its architecture, especially the Art Nouveau styles and the gargoyles of some buildings,” Angeles said. “I decided to create fantastical beings that also symbolized empathy and solidarity from us, the artisans who didn’t immigrate, toward our family members who are here in the United States.
“We wanted to give them these guides to look over them, to let them know they are not alone. That’s why we included designs related to netting or frontiers, to reference the [Mexico-U.S.] border,” he said. “It’s very much a symbol of the present, mixed with my family’s very traditional symbolism.”
Oaxaca state’s Governor Alejandro Murat Hinojosa said the alebrijes embodied the culture of the Zapotec.
“When you think of the alebrijes, you think of the Zapotec cultures, which said before they existed in their physical form, they represented the nagual, the spirit inside of us, the purpose of life,” he said. “By being here today with the alebrijes, we confirm our purpose.”
On Monday evening, tourists quietly snapped shots of the U.N. building from the granite staircase at the Northwest corner of the Ralph Bunche Park named after the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
The staircase built and dedicated in 1948 during the construction of the U.N. also features The Isaiah Wall, a curved wall located at 1st Avenue and 43rd Street inscribed with an excerpt from Isaiah 2:4 which says: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”