by A. J.
New York is abuzz about the recently installed “Fearless Girl” statue now confronting the massive, bronze “Charging Bull” statue in the heart of Wall Street. The petite girl holds a defiant stance as she stares down the big, brutish symbol of a rising stock market.
The girl was put there temporarily, but many women and girls want her to remain permanently. The creator of the bull, Arturo Di Modica, demands the girl be removed, claiming that she infringes on his sculpture.
The artist who made “Fearless Girl,” Kristen Visbal, says her work represents “the power of women in leadership.” The creator of “Bull” claims that the bull represents “freedom, peace, strength, power and love,” and that the girl improperly invades its space and detracts from it.
Talk about symbolism! This instance is perfect! And some of us believe that art, like the US Constitution, cannot be frozen in time, but should speak to what is happening around it.
The Fearless Girl statue was commissioned by investment firm State Street Global Advisor as an advertisement for an index fund. The plaque reads “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference”. “SHE” stands for the fund’s NASDAQ ticker symbol.
The instance might “look” perfectly, but I think this is a case of “all science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided”, the essence being clever capitalist appropriation of feminism for their own ends.
Guillem, you sound like a parody of knee-jerk leftists, who would judge a work of art solely by who paid for it. So what if Fearless Girl is being “used”–that doesn’t invalidate what people see in her, and they love her for being a fearless girl. Do you go to the Prado and denounce Velazques’ paintings solely because he was sponsored by the king?
In the US, we have very little public art that is not paid for by some capitalist enterprise. They get to put a plaque with their name on it; we get to enjoy the art. I don’t think what the sponsor uses pictures of Fearless Girl for matters to anyone who enjoys it for what it IS.
Art is art, unless it is operating as propaganda. Its outward appearance is not something separate from its essence, which in this case happens to be bronze. And each person gets to interpret art for herself. Of course capitalism tries to co-opt feminism, and everything else. But we don’t have to accept their interpretation of art.
And the bull that she is stopping from rampaging has been used to “advertise” capitalism for a couple centuries!