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Illegal Edward Snowden Statue Replaced With Hologram Monument

An Edward Snowden tribute grows in Brooklyn.

image via The Illuminator/Facebook

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden was the recipient of not one, but two artistic tributes in Brooklyn this week.


For a short period on Monday morning, Fort Greene Park’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument was home to a four-foot-tall, 100-pound bust of Snowden, perched atop one of that fixture’s stone pillars. The bust, reports AnimalNY, was the brainchild of two anonymous New York artists who had spent the past year planning their guerilla installation. In an artist’s statement, quoted in AnimalNY, they write:

“...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.”
Here’s a look at the unnamed artists erecting their tribute:

Since this was an entirely unsanctioned installation, park officials were quick to remove the bust, first covering it with tarp, and later taking it down entirely.

Not to be outdone, a second group returned to the on-off memorial site that same evening. These activists, part of The Illuminator Art Collective, weren’t hauling bronze (or, actually, hydrocal, the sculpting material reportedly used to make first bust) but rather a fog machine and a high-powered projector. The goal? To recreate the Snowden sculpture using nothing but light and smoke.

image via The Illuminator/Facebook

image via The Illuminator/Facebook

image via The Illuminator/Facebook

The Illuminator Art Collective has its origins in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement, reportedly receiving an initial financial donation from Ben And Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Ben Cohen. As a 2014 WNYC profile on the group explains, they have since gone on to lend their projection-based form of artistic protest to a number of other causes.

In a Facebook note titled “The Ghost Of Edward Snowden,” the Collective writes:

Inspired by the actions of these anonymous artists, [behind the original Snowden bust] The Illuminator Art Collective recreated the intervention ephemerally by projecting an image of the sculpture into a cloud of smoke. 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.

Assuming you feel Edward Snowden is deserving of a tribute in the first place, it could be argued that a hologram is better suited for the job than traditional sculpture. Snowden is, after all, famous for having revealed to the world a uniquely modern form of surveillance. A uniquely modern monument, therefore, seems fitting.

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