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ENGELS BEARD `CYNICAL HIPSTER JOKEí SCULPTURE UNVEILED AT SALFORD UNIVERSITY
 

Star date: 23rd September 2016

FRIEDRICH ENGELS DESERVES BETTER THAN `KITSCH JOKE'

Yesterday, Salford University unveiled its Engels' Beard sculpture outside the £55million New Adelphi arts campus. The five metre high sculpture is also a climbing wall, in what its creators explain is a `homage to Engels' legacy'

But Engels' Beard has been slammed as a `kitsch, ironic hipster beard joke that's gone too far', and an insult to the memory of the communist revolutionary who was the first to really document absolute poverty in Salford and Manchester.

Full details here...


Engels Beard sculpture Salford University Engels Beard sculpture Salford University Engels Beard sculpture Salford University
Engels Beard sculpture Salford University Engels Beard sculpture Salford University Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels Friedrich Engels Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels Mill Salford Friedrich Engels The Condition of the Working Class in England
click image to enlarge

What The F***king Hell Is That?

"Kitsch approaches to significant political figures aren't engaging or community-spirited, they're shallow and exploitative..." Rachel Broady


For anyone who doesn't know who Friedrich Engels is, here's a few facts...

* He worked at his father's mill in Weaste between 1842 and 1844, and between 1850 and 1870.

* During that time he lived a double life as a `bourgeois' and a revolutionary, who firstly documented absolute poverty in Salford and Manchester in his book The Conditions of the Working Class in England, age 25, and, later wrote The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, at the age of 28, amongst loads of other works and deeds.

* Engels lived all over Manchester in official and unofficial addresses to avoid the secret police

* With Marx, he demystified capitalism and the "basic evil" of exploitation which we are still living with today

* Engels and Marx inspired revolutions all over the world which led to portraits of them being paraded like gods, particularly in the so-called `Communist' Eastern bloc. To help with the reverence Engels was portrayed as a `wise old man' with a huge beard Ė even though, when he wrote his hard-core political pamphlets and books in Salford and Manchester he was still in his twenties and thirties, and didn't actually have a full beard, only a goatee.

* Engels' legacy in Salford has so far been limited to a towerblock named after him in Eccles and the M602 which goes straight over the family mill.

Friedrich Engels' latest legacy is a huge sculpture called Engels' Beard, unveiled yesterday outside the University of Salford's New Adelphi arts campus. The 'Beard also doubles as a climbing wall, with its artist, Jai Redman from Engine, saying the sculpture, costing a reported £60,000, is "paying homage to Engels' huge influence".

One of Engels' top legacies was an essay he wrote called The Housing Question in 1887, pointing out how the centre of cities indulge in social cleansing by driving out the working class in the name of "beautifying the town"...and how housing for the working class becomes "rare and expensive and often altogether unobtainable".

...Why, he could even be describing Salford and Manchester today, and particularly Greengate, where Engine has recently developed ArtWork, "a studio and exhibition space", with "support from Renaker Build", according to the Engels' Beard press release. Renaker has avoided paying almost £4million in planning fees to Salford City Council on its unaffordable Wilburn Basin apartment blocks near Ordsall and its Private Sector Rent apartment towers in Greengate.

Meanwhile journalist Rachel Broady, who also lectures at Manchester Met University and whose PhD is in journalistic representations of political protests by Manchester Victorian workers, has slammed everything about Engels' Beard...

"Using Engels as fodder for regeneration nostalgia is the worst way he can be remembered" she says "Engels didn't want a statue, he made this clear, so this pretence to celebrate his work is doubly insulting.

"At a time when Salford children are experiencing increasing poverty and a rise in Victorian diseases, I think as a city we should look more closely at the work of Engels, instead we're invited to climb his face in what seems to be an ironic beard joke that's gone too far" she explains "I suspect the beard joke came before the decision to `celebrate' Engels, to tap into a recent hipster trend. I find it frustrating and cynical.

"Engels' contribution to this city was huge but this literal play on 'standing on the shoulders of giants' offers nothing to explain why his work is as relevant today as it always was" she adds "Kitsch approaches to significant political figures aren't engaging or community-spirited, they're shallow and exploitative; they don't contribute to a wider or contemporary understanding of philosophy or our city's history but instead reduce both to a wry playground giggle; worse still a tourism or promotional tool, within which Engels' worth is lost.

"I hope that it is used by local children, to give it some value" she concludes "but ultimately it adds nothing to our city's need to remain connected to its political history. We just see Engels as someone literally to be walked all over."

Top author and historian of Manchester and Salford's working class movements, Michael Herbert, also weighed in on Twitter yesterday, tweeting `Salford University puts up a pointless statue to Engels whilst attacking pay and conditions of staff #doublethink'...


*For a full background on Engels and his relationship to Salford see the Salford Star Engels special in print issue 6 or click here and follow the links


Photos by Andrew Goudie

Brianfkirkham wrote
at 14:42:17 on 27 September 2016
Having read the piece, it's amazing to note how ignorant our so called fathers of academia are. I have no doubt the sculpture will be engaged in some overpriced marketing ploy by the city university, but given the university's insistence to flog everything around it as part of our neighbour, perhaps they would like to reflect n the city history and do something for the community to honour the great men and women that come from our city. It still raises a grin walking past a mancunian pub in the centre to find a memorial to Humphrey booth the elder...perhaps it would be wise for the university to honour the past by providing some historical courses to the local population or scholarships to local students...I'm sure mr Engels would have approved, given they jumped into bed like the rest by charging people out of higher education

Reg Howard wrote
at 20:05:17 on 25 September 2016
interesting to note the lack of comments from our so called socialist council, Engels told the truth about Salford people living in poverty,today's councillors deny that children in this city ARE living in poverty, even the mayor has asked for donations to the food bank.Engels was a visionary who could foresee the time when this type of poverty would return to this city,Salford socialists are a joke, they make Thatcher look like Karl Marx,perhaps they should go back to their roots and rediscover what socialism is about,maybe then then they will treat this insult to Engels seriously

Oz Wald wrote
at 05:19:43 on 25 September 2016
Not a one sided article at all. Love how they've forgotten to mention that Rachael Broady is an ex Sun Journalist (very socialist) a renowned Twitter troll and threatened to attack this sculpture with an axe back in 2014. It's an amazing sculpture and done more for the memory of Engels in one weekend than Rachel Broady will achieve in her lifetime. Bless her. Also. People need to look up hipster and then research the artist. Absolute idiots.

Winston Smith wrote
at 14:10:27 on 24 September 2016
@Fat End of Wedge - you make a good point. I don't think anybody can go through life without some kind of 'blemish' that the opposition picks up on. Nobody can be perfect - even Ghandi came out with some racist stuff. I suppose people's legacy should be judged by their *overall intentions* and what they actually *did*

The Fat End of the Wedge wrote
at 09:14:24 on 24 September 2016
BTW, if you look more closely at Engel's work, as Rachel Broady suggests, what should one make of these comments: "These Irishmen who migrate for fourpence to England...their food consists of potatoes and potatoes only, whatever they earn beyond these needs they spend upon drink...the Irish have discovered the minimum of the necessities of life, and are now making the English workers acquainted with it...The lack of cleanliness, which is the Irishman's second nature...The Milesian deposits all garbage and filth before his house door here, as he was accustomed to do at home, and so accumulates the pools and dirt-heaps which disfigure the working- people's quarters and poison the air." and so it goes on, question is, is it truth or racism? If these words were life observations (and not simply ignorant prejudice) from a 'right wing' politician from history whose beard had now been defiled then I'm sure the tone of the Star would be entirely celebratory?

The Fat End of the Wedge wrote
at 09:13:33 on 24 September 2016
I'm with Winston Smith - except he didn't go far enough either...

Suzihoffmann wrote
at 06:38:22 on 24 September 2016
Be great if some students at Salford or some kids knew who Freddy was (or Mary) but they don't. This pair need to be on school and university curricula everywhere. It's the most interesting political story and love affair ever. OK so purists may say - 'how awful' but any way of raising awareness of our history - even with a crass sculpture - I'm for it. (Sorry)

Winston Smith wrote
at 06:38:16 on 24 September 2016
Two firsts: One I'm almost stuck for words and the second is that Salford Star didn't go far enough. Middle class hipster wankfest from a half of the country that doesn't realise how rich it is. Hahahahah yeh poverty is funny coz we can laff at anything right??? Never mind it offends, we can be 'ironic'. Fuck off cunt hipster middle class vermin.

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