Thirty years ago, Arturo Di Modica illegally installed a massive bronze bull in the center of New York City’s financial district as a guerrilla commentary on the economic resilience of Wall Street after the stock market crash that had happened earlier that year. It was only later that he sought a permit for it to remain, and technically, it still has only a temporary permit, albeit one that has been allowed to persist due to the statue’s popularity.
Fearless Girl, a new statue of a young girl standing defiantly against the heavyweight symbol of capitalism, was also installed overnight, but her artist, Kristen Visbal, at least obtained a permit in the first place. Fearless Girl was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors for International Women’s Day in an effort to point out the lack of women in corporate boards (still less than 20% in the U.S.).
Fearless Girl was immediately popular, and Mayor De Blasio himself extended her temporary permit immediately.
“She spoke to the moment,” De Blasio told reporters. “She is inspiring everyone at a moment when we need inspiration.” He openly alluded to the new tenure of President Trump and his boasts about sexually assaulting women in business.
But now Di Modica is mad. Angry enough that he is threatening to sue city authorities over the permitting of the new statue, claiming that she “changed the creative dynamic of his sculpture,” according to The Guardian. It will be interesting to see how he intends to prove that an addition of a statue some dozen yards away from his own, their only relationship that of juxtaposition in a crowded city, imposes on the artistic copyright of his own.
Can he argue that the public interpretation of the space is a part of his copyright? Perhaps. But how hypocritical is it for one guerrilla artist to object to another’s input?