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Libya’s rebels become collectors… of Colonel Gaddafi’s memorabilia

While Muammar al-Gaddafi is still at large and there are still pockets of fighting in Tripoli, it seems clear that the regime of the self-named ‘Brotherly Leader of the Revolution’ is at an end.

One of the ways this has been made clearest, to those who aren’t on the streets of Tripoli, is through the treatment of tangible objects. As rebels have swept into the Colonel’s compound, they’ve taken the opportunity acquire some memorabilia of Gaddafi’s regime…

One rebel snatched a gold-trimmed hat from Gaddafi’s bedroom, telling people that he planned to give it to his father as a present. Another found the golf buggy in which Gaddafi made a typically-eccentric appearance earlier this year.

While the value of these items probably wasn’t the rebels’ first concern, they were on to something. Items related to vanquished leaders can be valuable, whether they relate to Napoleon or to the Nazis.

But, of all Gaddafi’s ‘memorabilia’,  there is one object in particular which captures the regime and its downfall.

You can probably guess which one I mean: The House of Resistance Monument, better known by its description Sculpture of a Giant Gold Fist Crushing a Plane.

Commissioned by Gaddafi following the 1986 bombing of Libya by American aircraft, the statue is certainly a striking artwork.

It wouldn’t look out of place somewhere like Sotheby’s selling exhibition at Sudeley castle, which last year sold a sculpture of a huge gold jug apparently being poured by an invisible giant hand.

For Libyans, the statue’s Fist stood as a definitive statement of defiance and power. That impression is instantly reversed the moment you see a gleeful rebel soldier jumping up and down on it.

By Greg.


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