Surrender Dorothy: New York Skywriting Co-Opted by Occupy Wall Street

On Sunday, the protesters in Zuccotti Park were heartened to see a plane dip and soar, forming the phrase “Last Chance.” This was obviously an attack on Wall Street! City Councilman Peter Vallone – who has a history of dealing harshly with street art – saw this “sky graffiti” as a form of terrorism. “The arts are supposed to generate conversation but not apprehension and fear,” he told reporters.

People at Occupy Wall Street also freaked out, assuming that the person writing (perhaps Anonymous?) was championing their cause.  (Except for the one person who thought it was Bloomberg’s message to the protesters.)

So it must have been a letdown to learn that the writing had nothing to do with the Occupy Wall Street movement. It was a private arts project commissioned by the High Line, as we reported yesterday. So why did Occupy Wall Streeters read so much into a bunch of clouds?

The project was the brainchild of Kim Beck, as part of her “The Sky is the Limit/NYC” exhibition. From her artist statement:

For the live event, being held October 9 from 4:00 to 7:00, Beck will have a skywriting plane write such advertising messages as “All Sales Final,” “Last Chance,” “Now Open,” and “Everything Must Go,” which will fill the air before fading away. “In The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West writes ‘Surrender Dorothy’ in the sky,” Beck explained in a statement. “‘The Sky Is the Limit/NYC’ echoes this vague threat, in this case of a double-dip recession, while using the media of smoke to create a drawing in the sky.”

So it was a vague threat about our double-dip recession? But the show had nothing to do with Occupy Wall Street movement (except theoretically) and, more importantly, had been given the proper permits from the city?

If anything, this proves what we already know about most New Yorkers: Take an ambiguous statement, and they’ll definitely find a way to make it about themselves.

Surrender Dorothy: New York Skywriting Co-Opted by Occupy Wall Street