A Zoroastrian “Freedom Monument” on the west coast of America

The crowdfunded public art installation was gifted to the city of Los Angeles on July 4. Photo by Vafa Khatami. Courtesy of Farhang Foundation

As crowds across Los Angeles celebrated Independence Day Tuesday, LA officials closed off a stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between Avenue of the Stars and the Beverly Hills border in order to debut a new public art installation called the Freedom Sculpture.

Designed by artist Cecil Balmond, the sculpture was inspired by the Cyrus Cylinder, an archaeological artifact from ancient Persia. According to the foundation, it’s meant to celebrate the “ideals of freedom, respect for diversity, and inclusiveness.”

Located on a median in the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard, it’s also meant to be enjoyed by drivers. Balmond tells the LA Times that some of the best views of the sculpture will come when approaching it “at 30 to 40 miles an hour.”

The wavy lines of the sculpture imitate the Akkadian cuneiform script found on the historic cylinder and are illuminated at night by interior LED lights. “When you move past,” Balmond says, “it’s alive.”

The large glimmering sculpture arrived at the intersection of Santa Monica and Century Park East in June and had been concealed by a large yellow barrier until yesterday. It was commissioned by the Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit group promoting Iranian art and culture.



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