Statue at liberty: Martyred Snowden bust goes virtual overnight

Photo from theilluminator.org
A visual art collective protested the removal of a secretly installed statue of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden overnight by projecting a hologram of the bust atop the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park.

After New York City Parks Department and the New York Police Department “censored” (read: covered up then removed) an illicitly installed 100-pound bust of Snowden on Monday, the Illuminator decided to virtually reconstruct the 4-foot tall statue.

Artists with the group "The Illuminator" cast an image of Edward Snowden over the spot where a sculpture of the NSA leaker once stood on Monday, April 7, 2015. (The Illuminator)

The Illuminator Art Collective is a Brooklyn-based group that uses a cargo van equipped with video and audio projection equipment to “smash the myths of the information industry and shine a light on the urgent issues of our time” and “allow people to find out for themselves what the 99% movement is fighting for,” according to their website.

The group “recreated the intervention ephemerally by projecting an image of the sculpture into a cloud of smoke,” they explained in a blog post. They also projected Snowden’s name on the base of the column where the statue had been placed.

Gothamist, which first reported the second guerrilla art installation, called it an “eerie, looming projection.”

The group says their aim is to get people talking about the world’s socioeconomic problems in the same way that the Occupy Wall Street Movement did.

“Our feeling is that while the State may remove any material artifacts that speak in defiance against incumbent authoritarianism, the acts of resistance remain in the public consciousness,” the Illuminator wrote. “And it is in sharing that act of defiance that hope resides.”

The original statue was fused to the monument overnight on Monday by a trio of anonymous artists and a few helpers, Animal New York reported.

“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,” the anonymous group wrote in a statement.

An image of Edward Snowden cast over where a sculpture of him stood earlier. (The Illuminator)

“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.”

The first ninja artists named their Snowden tribute ‘Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0’, theoretically making the Illuminator’s version ‘Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 3.0’.

The original anonymous artists applauded the Illuminators’ hologram.

“Seeing flowers on the now empty monument was incredibly inspiring, but when another group of artists ‘reinstalled’ the bust and nameplate in light, we were truly touched,” the creators of ‘Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0’ told Mashable.

“It proves the meaning of the piece, and the tough questions it forces us to answer, will endure even though it's no longer physically not present,” they continued. “We're thrilled this has inspired others to take creative action towards raising awareness about what it means to be an American, and a hero.”

Before the Illuminator struck Monday night, New York covered the bust while removing it. But that didn’t stop residents from paying tribute to the statue.

“We were surprised to see the way the statue was covered up before its removal, as though it were a profane statement,” the artists said. “We were equally heartened to see the outpouring of support New York, and people online, have shared.”

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument honors the 11,500 prisoners who died after Revolutionary troops retreated during the Battle of Long Island.