Is the statue of Rio in fact a Swedish bastard?
Rio de Janeiro is embracing the world, but looking inwards. At the same time as the city is getting ready to host the World Cup in soccer as well as the Olympics, while attracting more and more foreign direct investment after a decades long slump, Rio boosterism takes a nativist turn. Henrik Brandaõ Jönsson writes in the Danish newspaper Politiken about how ‘O Cristo Redentor’, the Marevellous city’s Jesus, has been given a new father.
Over the past 80 years a Frenchman, the art deco sculptor Paul Landowski, has been considered the statue’s creator in that he was responsible for the design of Rio’s most famous landmark. Not any more. To celebrate the city’s resurgence, Mayor Eduardo Paes has proclamated that the true creator of Christ the Redeemer is none other than the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa.
Heitor da Silva Costa used to be the Italian engineer Heitor Levy though, obscuring the statue’s origin further since it may be neither French nor Brazilian but in fact Italian. But don’t be too happy Italy; Swedes have always known that all of this is wrong. The very fundamental foundation is actually made out Swedish rock from the quarry in Limhamn, which rendered ‘O Cristo Redentor’ the less impressive epithet ‘Limhamn’s Jesus’ among Swedish sailors, according to Brandaõ Jönsson.
It could therefore be argued with some legitimacy that the symbol of Rio – and in many ways Brazil – can be traced to the Malmö outskirts, or, conversely, that it’s a splendid project based on global cooperation with input from many different countries that lends Rio de Janeiro justice as a city that isn’t so much attached to a single nation and landmass as it is a unique place unlike anywhere else that welcomes people from everywhere to join in the fun and have a good time.