Remember earlier this month when we told you the artwork of a disabled African-American cancer survivor who was supposed to make a public sculpture in Riverside Park was censored? Because that was fun.
The Parks Department had said that because the proposed work included an image of a noose, people doing yoga in the park would be made uncomfortable. By, you know, the facts of American history. So they asked the artist to change it.
Well, for once, we have some good news on the censorship front: the city backed down, according to a report from Gothamist.
“Stand Tall, Stand Loud,” the work artist Aaron Bell created with financial assistance from the “Model to Monument” program, which is administered by the Parks Department, premiered in its modified form this week. The work was altered after the department’s commissioner, Mitchell Silver, objected to the imagery appearing in a place of yoga, lest the white and powerful be disturbed by reminders of colonialist oppression (which is totally over! everything is great now.)
In coming weeks, however, the sculpture will be restored to Bell’s original vision with the noose, the artist and his attorney announced.
Not wanting to give up the opportunity to have his art in such a well-trafficked place, Bell had replaced the noose with a cast of two mouths in the current version, as reported, though he was unhappy about it.
The restored work “will serve as a reminder to the diverse flow of visitors that we each should encourage and strive to make tolerance and understanding a daily minimum requirement,” Bell said, according to West Side Rag, which first broke news of the censorship.
At the bottom of the sculpture is the Martin Luther King Jr. quote “Our lives begin to die the day we are silent about the things that matter.” Now, that quote really works. Well done, everyone. For once.