AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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FEARLESS GIRL ON THE MOVE?

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Latest development in the Fearless Girl case, brought to you only three weeks late courtesy of yrs truly and the end of the semester: the city wants the girl moved, citing traffic and safety concerns.

I can’t imagine that any one was surprised by this decision, given the statue’s story as an advertisement playing opposite an iconic piece of guerilla art. It was unlikely that it would stay forever. And at 250 pounds, it hardly presents the obstacle to removal that Charging Bull did; it’s a much easier call.

But the city is now planning to move the bull, too. It might be moved back to where it originally had been placed, right in front of the stock exchange. All good, right?

Now here’s where things get a little weird. DiModica, the artist who created Charging Bull, is suing the city, arguing that it does not own the bull, and therefore has no right to move it. And if the press coverage is accurate, the problem isn’t just that they’re moving the bull back to the original location, but that it’s being moved with the statue of the girl.

The girl, Di Modica has argued, alters the meaning of the bull. He intended it as a symbol of hope; it’s been taken more broadly as a symbol of New York and capitalism. But what he says he never wanted was for the bull to be a bully, and when it’s set to trample a tiny girl, that’s exactly what it looks like. And here, I think he’s right; the meaning of the bull won’t long survive the experience of crowds, treating it as a symbol of feminism and forgetting, after a while, that she wasn’t always there.

But I’m not sure that he’s right to think that the city doesn’t have the right to move it. It was an act of guerilla art, and it’s been so successful for no reason except public acclaim, and it’s evolved into an icon that he surely couldn’t have anticipated. More to the point, if it’s street art—and he’s adamant that it doesn’t belong to the city—then it seems that it has to live in that liminal space, not quite legal, not illegal. Part of its lifecycle requires accepting that the city might not always want it, and that its meaning hasn’t been in his control since that night in December.

Image credit: photo by Anthony Quintano via Flickr


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JURY IN 5POINTZ LAWSUIT AGREES WITH ARTISTS!

(AfB was way ahead of the game on the 5Pointz lawsuit.  Just saying.)

So the jury’s back with a recommendation, and the jury has decided that when Gerald Wolkoff whitewashed the graffiti mecca at 5Pointz, he broke the law; under VARA, he should have given the artists sufficient notice so that they could preserve or remove their artwork.  The judge gets the final say on the verdict and on any penalty, but the jury’s decision is still a big deal, as this marks the first time that VARA has been decided by a jury in court.

The artists argued, under VARA, that their work was of reasonable public stature, and so they needed to be given 90 days notice.  If the news reports are correct, the lawyers for the developer argued that VARA was irrelevant, because the case concerns property, and presumably they argued that street art didn’t qualify for VARA.

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internet, but I wonder if this was the wrong way to argue the case.   Because it seems that if the jury believed that the works at 5Pointz were artworks, then it looks like VARA has to apply; the artwork is well-recognized.  If they’re not artwork, then it’s just a question of property.

I suspect, however, to the average person, 5Pointz is art.    Maybe it’s not art they like, or art they understand, or art they respect, but art all the same. Better, perhaps, to concede that 5Pointz is artwork, but ephemeral artwork of a kind that has no claim on civic protection.  Street art must change with the city.

Image Credit: Aaron Harewood (5pointz graffiti) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


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MARY BETH WILLARD REVISITS “FEARLESS GIRL” STATUE

When I last wrote about Fearless Girl, I observed that the meaning of the little Bull-challenging statue will lie in its interaction with the public, who for the moment has claimed it as an icon of feminism, capturing the vivacity of little girls at that tender age where they still dare to dream.

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Fearless Girl reportedly now has a permit through 2018, and this has angered none other than the creator of Charging Bull, Arturo di Modica, who has asked for Fearless Girl to be relocated, because it’s making his Bull into a villain. Continue reading


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MARY BETH WILLARD ON “FEARLESS GIRL” STATUE

On a cold December night in 1989, artist Arturo di Modica installed Charging Bull, a three-and-a-half ton bronze bull, in New York’s Financial District. Di Modica had no official permission to install the statue, which he said symbolized the “strength and power of the American people” following the disastrous 1987 stock market crash.

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These days Charging Bull is a well-beloved tourist attraction, so you probably don’t remember, if you ever knew, that the immediate reaction to this guerilla Christmas gift was mixed. Crowds loved it, but the police were called by the securities exchanges, who then hired a contractor to remove the bull. Five days later, the city announced that it would have a temporary home two-and-a-half blocks south on Bowling Green, where it stands today. Continue reading


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AFB Artworld Roundtable: 5Pointz Lawsuit

This is the first in a new series at Aesthetics for Birds called AFB Artworld Roundtable, where Philosophers of Art provide their take on a particular recent artworld event or news story.

Artists Sue 5Pointz Owner & Developers

Nine artists have filed a federal lawsuit against the owner and related developers of the famous graffiti shrine 5Pointz in Queens. The suit claims the Defendents:

“destroyed mutilated, modified and defaced each and every one of the works of art installed by Plaintiffs on 5Pointz… [without] notice in writing regarding their intent to destroy the artwork nor did they afford Plaintiffs…a period of 90 days after receiving such notice either to remove the work or pay for its removal.”

The full story can be found here.

The Roundtable

K.E. Gover, Mary Beth Willard, Darren Hick, Erin Thompson

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