After a seven-year absence, a 26-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe has been reinstalled in downtown Palm Springs—but not everyone had an itch for it to return.
On Sunday, high winds prevented an official unveiling of John Seward Johnson II’s sculpture Forever Marilyn—which was previously displayed in the city from 2012 to 2014—but Monroe’s perpetually wind-swept skirt is what has some people up in arms. According to the Desert Sun, protesters in attendance at the installation event could be heard chanting “Hey hey! Ho ho! Misogyny has got to go!” and “Exploitation! Exploitation!”
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The statue’s location has also been a source of controversy. Marilyn has been installed smack in the middle of Museum Way, making a road to the Palm Springs Art Museum impassable to vehicles.
For Emiliana Guereca, executive director of Women’s March Foundation, the problems are connected.
“When you exit the museum, the statue is designed to look at her crotch and look at her buttocks and take photos,” she told Desert Sun. “And that is no longer acceptable. It may have been acceptable in the 1950s, but we are in 2021 fighting the same thing and women are saying enough is enough.”
A pair of Women’s March Foundation chapters coordinated Sunday’s protest alongside a pro-relocation group co-headed by fashion designer Trina Turk. That organization has raised upward of $70,000 to fund a lawsuit opposing the statue’s placement, which Turk previously said “co-opts taxpayer-funded Museum Way for PS Resorts and blocks the view corridor leading to noted Palm Springs architect E. Stewart Williams’ architecturally significant building.”
Others who attended Sunday’s event are thrilled to see Marilyn back in town, among them city council members and business owners who say the statue will be a big tourist draw and social media sensation, as it was during its initial installation.
Calling Forever Marilyn “whimsical” and “joyful,” Mayor Christy Holstege said, “We are happy to have her back.”
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