No One Can Erase the Voice of the People: Snowden Resurrected As Hologram

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Hours after unimpressed parks officials wrapped up and carted off that terrific bust of Snowden created by a team of guerrilla artists for a Brooklyn war memorial in the name of "those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies," yet another rogue band resurrected Snowden's image, this time with laptops and smoke, to insist on Snowden's "heroism." "While the State may remove any material artifacts that speak in defiance against incumbent authoritarianism, the acts of resistance remain in the public consciousness," declared The Illuminator Art Collective. "And it is in sharing that act of defiance that hope resides."

The original, still-anonymous artists had meticulously attached the 100-pound, bronze-colored Snowden bust to a pillar that forms part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a Revolutionary War memorial in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park, with the dawn action documented by Animal New York. In a statement, the artists noted that in this culture a bust serves as a sort of "visual guidepost to who a hero is," that Snowden was defending the same freedoms as those memorialized, and that "all too often, figures who strive to uphold (American) ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze."

Within hours, unamused parks officials arrived to cover the sculpture in blue plastic - "as though it were a profane statement," the artists lamented - and hauled it off, but not before its image had gone viral. The following dawn in the park brought members of Illuminator, a political art collective born of Occupy Wall Street whose mission is to "smash the myths of the information industry and shine a light on the urgent issues of our time." It calls its images and interventions "talismans of trespass" within the "stultifying visual culture of commodity capitalism."

Illuminator members said their recreation of Snowden was a message of defiance aimed at authorities who "censored" the original piece - but who "can't erase the fact that it happened." The original artists said they were heartened both by the outpouring of support and by the Illuminators' perseverance. "It proves the meaning of the piece, and the tough questions it forces us to answer, will endure," they said. Both groups, while unrelated, share a key goal: To stir the waters, to tell the truth, to talk about "what it means to be an American, and a hero."

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