NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is so totally busted—that is, he has been freshly molded into a spanking new, 4-foot, 100-pound bust that was unveiled earlier today in Fort Greene Park. Following an overnight installation, the Snowden sculpture stood tall for a few short hours before being tarped and ultimately removed in its entirety by the NYC Parks Department.
Responsible for the unconventional exhibit of the sculpted head of the former U.S. Intelligence contractor is a trio of unnamed, guerrilla artists (and probably some helpful assistants as well). Settling in advance on the April 6 date to unveil the massive homage, the team of artists privately revealed their identity and motivations, permitting the news blog ANIMAL New York to exclusively document their project as long as their anonymity was upheld.
The band of mercenaries, expressing discontent with the American public’s lack of response to the illegal surveillance by the NSA, lugged the sculpture of Snowden up the park’s leafy hill to the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a revolutionary war monument designed by architect Stanford White. Consisting of a 100-foot-wide granite staircase and a 149-foot-tall central Doric column, the monument commemorates the site of a crypt holding more than 11,500 martyred patriots who died on British prison ships anchored in the East River during the war.
The artists installed the Snowden bust at the monument for the purpose of commemorating, in their view at least, the modern-day American martyr presently living in exile in Moscow. So as not to enrage anyone by defiling a war monument, the artists took care to preserve the monument on which the bust rests from resulting damage, fusing the Snowden head to one of the four columns of the structure by using removable, firm adhesive.
The project began over a year ago, when two notorious New York City-based artists known for their past “notable public interventions” thought up the tribute, according to ANIMAL New York. The artists subsequently combined talents with a distinguished sculptor on the West Coast to bring the bust to fruition. They even contributed thousands of dollars of their own money to foot the bill for the materials of the bust, a project that would typically cost upwards of $30,000.
The feisty artists titled their manifesto the “Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0.” The full text of their published statement reads:
“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.”
Made of hydrocal, a high quality sculpting material, the Roman-looking bust fit right in to the surrounding landscape, apparently even going unnoticed by most of the people passing by it in the early morning hours, according to ANIMAL. It was so expertly crafted that the color and design matched the existing sculptures in the park.
But ultimately, the effigy made it only a few hours before it was unceremoniously removed from the park. As of noon, it had already been covered by an unsightly tarp by Parks Department officials. No word yet on what the city plans to do with the massive Snowden bust, but as you read this, there is probably a large package on the tarmac at La Guardia en route to Moscow .