Paying tribute to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, activist artists in Brooklyn early Monday surreptitiously installed a bust of his likeness to a war memorial.
According to the publication Animal, which was given exclusive access to document the act, three unnamed New York City-based artists "hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers."
The group said they first conceived of the project, which is named "Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0," about a year ago. The statue itself was created by a "renowned sculptor on the West Coast who was sympathetic to their cause." In a statement about the artwork, the group wrote:
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. 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. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze. Our goal is to bring a renewed vitality to the space and prompt even more visitors to ponder the sacrifices made for their freedoms. We hope this inspires them to reflect upon the responsibility we all bear to ensure our liberties exist long into the future.
While the group acknowledged that Snowden himself would not necessarily approve of the piece "since he never wanted the leaks to be about him," they hope he'll understand.
Animal also produced this video about the installation of the illicit sculpture.
Describing the 4-foot tall bust, Animal said it was designed specifically to blend into the monument. "Both the color and design of the bust expertly matches the existing sculptures there, from its bronze patina finish to Snowden’s hair — which mimics the texture of the feather on the eagle," Animal reports. "The artists also added letters spelling out Snowden’s name in an official-looking font befitting of a monument."
According to reporting on the ground, park officials have already removed the artwork.