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By Paul Meekin
The man who made the Wall Street Bull is mighty upset at a little girl, well a statue of a little girl.
Sculptor Arturo Di Modica claims the girl statue – ‘The Fearless Girl’ is violating his copyright on the statue of the bull – stating it changes the fundamental meaning of the Wall Street Bull.
So what happens when a statue, intended to inspire confidence in the American economy, is appropriated by another statue that casts it as an enemy of the American public?
A smashing together of political ideology, modernism, post-modernism, 80s excess and 2010s social justice. It’s beautiful chaos. It’s awesome in the dictionary’s basic definition of the word.
The Wall Street Bull is now a symbol of the toxic masculinity that many believe are responsible for the horrible things this country has done – and continues to do. A raging, seething, charging bull with rage in its eyes and fire in its heart. A dangerous, powerful, force that cannot be stopped.
But just because it can’t be stopped, doesn’t mean you don’t stand in the way. And if a little girl, who looks about 8, is willing to put on her sun dress and put her hands on her hips and take the charge head on in the name of social justice, perhaps there’s hope yet.
I tend to think a lot of social justice stuff is wonky, and have many issues with it regarding the limiting of speech and demonizing people for personal opinions. But keep in mind there are plenty of beautiful paintings of angels and demons and fictional things, and those too, are beautiful.
Here the beauty lies in the genius of changing the bull’s intention by simply adding another statue. The whole context is flipped. The more I think about it, the more my art brain really *really* likes it because it’s provocative and modern and ballsy as hell.
Has this been done before? A famous piece of art re-contextualized to mean the exact opposite of its intent? Even the photos are provocative.
For the record if I were Mr. Di Modica I’d be rip-shit too. But litigious? I don’t know.
The girl statue only works if the bull is there. And the bull was not made by the same people who made the girl statue. It is appropriating it and fundamentally changing its purpose.
But at the same time, the point of art is to provoke emotion. Happiness. Anger. Disgust. Vitriol. Confusion. Confidence. Doubt. Awe. Disappointment. A photorealistic portrait amazes you. A photorealistic Soup Can confuses. These are all valid reactions to art.
The biggest take-away from my Liberal Arts College indoctrination was this very fact. The point of art is to make you feel. And the best part of all of this is if you hate this, loathe it, love it, roll your eyes, or spit on the bull or spit on the girl – the art is doing it’s job. You’re reacting. You’re investing. You *care*. Even if you take the time to say you don’t care, you care enough to say it. Which means you do.
As it stands, the statue of the girl will remain in opposition to the bull for one year if Mr. Di Modica’s lawyers don’t get their way sooner.
The libertarian in me is…confused. The copyright is Di Modica’s. I don’t know if the bull is his property, or who owns the land . I could find out, but I think that belays a point.
If he has a legal right to defending that land as the domain of solely his Wall Street Bull, then fine – he can do what he wants if it’s legally appropriate.
But in a way, that proves the girl statue’s point in a big bad way. Currently she’s standing up to the murky notion of toxic masculinity.
If she’s removed?
In the mind’s eye, she’ll be a victim of it.