An eerie projection of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden appeared on a war monument in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park early Tuesday, hours after a large bronze bust of the ex-CIA worker that had been affixed to the statue overnight was removed by police and parks crews.
The projection of the 4-foot bust illuminated the sky before dawn, hovering over the same monument pillar where an anonymous artists' group had erected the 100-pound sculpture the night before. The word "Snowden" glowed at the bottom of the statue at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, where the name had been adhered before it was removed Monday afternoon.
The Illuminator Art Collective, the mission of which is to "smash the myths of the information industry and shine a light on the urgent issues of our time," according to its website, recreated the bust "ephemerally by projecting an image of the sculpture in a cloud of smoke," its Facebook page said.
"The Parks Department and NYPD censored the work by placing a large tarp over Snowden's epitaph, so that while they worked to remove the artwork it remained concealed to the public," the Illuminator Art Collective wrote on Facebook. "Our feeling is that while the State may remove any material artifacts that speak in defiance against incumbent authoritarianism, the acts of resistance remain in the public consciousness. And it is in sharing that act of defiance that hope resides."
The group and some neighborhood advocates are calling for a community-based process to determine what happens to the bronze bust. The installation was captured on video; it showed several people in construction gear carting the bust into the park, then using a scaffold to hoist it to the top of the pillar. The anonymous artists who put it there told Animal New York it cost thousands of dollars to make and that they made a mold so they could create more Snowden effigies.
The NYPD says its intelligence division is looking into the statue and will be looking for DNA and other clues that may lead to arrests. It's not clear what charges could be filed in the case.
The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a centerpiece of Fort Greene Park and marks the burial sites of more than 11,500 men and women who died aboard British prison ships during the Revolutionary War.