Yesterday in a Brooklyn park, anonymous artists erected a large bust of Edward Snowden, who leaked National Security Agency documents. Animal New York has details:
“While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers.”
The bust was four feet tall and closely matched the existing column on which it was placed. The word “Snowden” was also placed at the base of the column.
Officials removed the figure later in the day, after placing a blue tarp over the rendering of Snowden’s face. A spokesperson for the New York Parks Department told Mashable, “Parks and NYPD have removed the sculpture. The erection of any unapproved structure or artwork in a city park is illegal.”
But Snowden’s image would soon return. On Monday night, the bust was replaced with what The Illuminator Art Collective calls an Edward Snowden hologram.
NPR spoke with three members of the collective, and they said their decision to replace the sculpture was a bit spontaneous. They had actually gone to the park to see the sculpture, but got there too late. “We biked over to check it out, and by the time we got there, the sculpture had been wrapped in blue tarp by the NYPD, and then it was swiftly removed,” said Kyle Depew, a member of the collective. “We were never actually able to see the bust with our own eyes. We were inspired to do what we do best, which is light projection to pay tribute to the work that these anonymous artists had done in creating the sculpture and to further the conversation, to further the story and the discussion about Edward Snowden.”
Grayson Earle, another member of the group, says the purpose of the projection was to get photographic proof of it, not to have it up for any extended period of time.
The group first projected Snowden’s image onto a leafless tree, and then projected an image on top of the same column the Snowden bust sat on earlier that day. “Emily Andersen and I threw ashes into the air which were sort of caught by the wind, and then we projected into that field to get that hologram effect,” says Earle. The group says the image was visible for about 10 to 20 minutes.
“We hope that other artists will piggyback on this, and that other artists will be inspired to do other creative actions and further this conversation.” Grayson says. “To me it’s about, if someone removes the statue, that the idea and the conversation can still take place, even though that material structure is gone,” Grayson said. “We just want people to know the spirit of Edward Snowden is alive and well if we want it to be.”
Snowden is currently living in Russia, but says he’d like to seek asylum in Switzerland.