On a recent visit to New York, I made the usual tourist rounds and paid a visit to Wall Street situated at Lower Manhattan. I like to experience the feel & vibe of these historical places.
I looked forward to see the famous, most photographed, iconic 7000 pound Charging Bull installation at the Bowling Green, created by sculptor Arturo Di Modica and click the usual touristy mandatory pictures.
The artist created it at his own expense of $ 350,000 dollars as a response for an America rattled by the 1987 stock market crash. The nation and its citizens, the Italian artist believed, were resilient. The Bull was seen as a symbol of strength and the indomitable spirit of America. Nothing would break them, nothing could stand it their way.
The Charging Bull, which he installed, without obtaining a permit, in front of the New York Stock Exchange, proved to be resilient too and has stood in the financial district for over 28 years.
(Source : Wikipedia)
Here comes the interesting twist to the tale. I got to see more than the Charging Bull.
This year on March 7 ,one day before International Womens day a statute called Fearless Girl was installed right in front the Charging Bull. diminutive 50 inch , 250 pound ponytailed latino girl statute created by artist Kristen Visbal standing up defiantly against the charging bull immediately became a tourist magnet and garnered a lot of support.
(Source : Wikipedia)
The Statue was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, a 3 trillion dollar asset Manager in a campaign developed by advertising agency McCann New York.
State Street Global Advisors was celebrating the first anniversary of its Gender Diversity Index fund that invests in U.S. large-capitalization companies that rank among the highest in their sector in achieving gender diversity across senior leadership.
Fearless Girl is meant to send a message regarding workplace gender diversity and encourage companies to recruit women to their boards. The plaque below the statue states, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference,” with SHE referring to both the gender of the subject and the fund’s NASDAQ ticker symbol.
The intention was to raise awareness about the presence of women in a male-dominated space like Wall Street. Fearless girl was initially given a permission for a week, then a month which has now got extended upto Feb 2018.
It has found support from the Mayor of New York, who issued a statement “In her short time here, the Fearless Girl has fueled powerful conversations about women in leadership and inspired so many, “Now, she’ll be asserting herself and affirming her strength even after her temporary permit expires — a fitting path for a girl who refuses to quit.”
Now then what is the problem as the statute of the fearless girl is cute enough.
The creator of Charging Bull feels that having the fearless girl in the same space as his own statue violates his rights as it changes the symbolism of the Charging Bull.
His take is that the Charging Bull is a representation for America’s strength, the presence of the fearless girl turns it into something negative and a threat.
Against the tiny girl looking directly at it making eye contact , the Charging Bull is a stand-in for the gendered forces that work against women’s success in the workplace. This creates a shift in the context , the fearless girl on its own has no meaning. She derives its meaning from standing up to the Charging Bull aka the evil Wall street bullies.
The Artist Di Modica meant his bull to stand alone and the perception now is as if Artist Visbal and New York City have altered his work without his consent.The creators and supporters view the fearless girl as a token of women braving the sexual harassment and gender discrimination of Wall Street and conquering it.
It was an interesting sight.
(Source : Internet)
What did I make of it?
I thought both the pieces of art were beautiful. The creation of the fearless girl was a brilliant brilliant piece of marketing which became a social media sensation, it also prompted a petition by change.org to make it permanent feature and has achieved its goal many many times over.
But I do lean a bit on the side of Charging Bull as I do think the presence of diminutive powerhouse does change the whole dynamic of the original piece.
But it is art & art is dynamic, strength was relevant when it was placed, maybe gender diversity is now! Who is to say? Art is up to interpretation.