Three artists with a history of pulling off notable public interventions illegally erected a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Fort Greene Park early Monday morning, reported animalnewyork.com.
The trio– which includes two New York City-based artists and a renowned sculptor from the West Coast– and their assistants hauled the 100-pound sculpture into the park and managed to fuse it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers.
The artists admitted that Snowden probably wouldn’t approve of the project, since he never wanted the leaks to be about him, but they hope he’d understand why they did it. In a statement about the project, which they have entitled, “Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0,” they wrote:
“Fort Greene’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze.”
City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, who represents Brooklyn’s 35th district of Fort Greene where the statue was erected, issued a statement and said that while she is a strong supporter of the arts and free expression, it should be done respectfully:
“The unsanctioned placement of the Edward Snowden bust atop one of the columns in the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park was an inappropriate manner to convey political views,” wrote Cumbo. “The actions of an anonymous group of artists’ who defaced a public monument was unacceptable and a reprehensible act of public expression. Access to information is important, as is artistic expression.
“When the two beliefs are merged, it must involve a safe, collective process where actions are sanctioned by all stakeholders, including the appropriate authorities, community residents and leaders.”