“Freedom Sculpture” Unveiled

The Freedom Sculpture: Credit: Farhang Group

The unveiling of the crowd-funded monument took place on the July 4 holiday on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East.

A sculpture billed as “a crowd-supported and funded public monument to freedom, cultural diversity and inclusiveness” designed by the London-based Sri Lankan-British architect and artist Cecil Balmond, was unveiled on July 4 in Century City.

The unveiling was part of the inaugural LA Freedom Festival, a free event on a closed section of Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East billed as a celebration of diversity and unity in Los Angeles.

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The festival, organized by the Farhang Foundation, featured multi-ethnic foods, diverse musical acts, celebrity speakers and a fireworks display.

The Farhang Foundation describes itself as a nonreligious, nonpolitical and nonprofit organization established in 2008 to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture. It also funds university programs, publications and conferences and supports a variety of cultural programs.

The Freedom Sculpture was “inspired by the humanitarian ideals of freedom, respect for cultural diversity and inclusiveness that originated with Cyrus the Great of Persia,” said Farhad Mohit, vice chairman of the Farhang Foundation, which led the efforts to raise funds for the sculpture.

“We had a vision of the Iranian-American community and the people of Los Angeles coming together to help create the Freedom Sculpture, making it a gift that celebrates the cultural diversity of our city,” Mohit said.

Just under $2.5 million was raised from over 1.15 million donors in more than 50 nations.

Mohit describes it as a large-scale contemporary interpretation of the 2,500-year-old Cyrus Cylinder, the ancient Persian artifact widely considered to be the first declaration of human rights.

The Freedom Sculpture began as an idea by the Farhang Foundation in late 2013. An international urban art competition seeking designs for a monument celebrating universally shared humanitarian ideals of freedom, inclusiveness and diversity began in 2014, Mohit said.

A panel of independent jurors selected Balmond’s design from more than 300 submissions.

At the unveiling, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “The Freedom Sculpture is a testament to the values we hold dear and we are honored to receive it.”

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