The sculptor said that the girl's presence ruins the integrity of his art.
When the “Fearless Girl” and “Charging Bull” statues were initially installed, albeit 28 years apart, the majority of New Yorkers had the same reaction: they reveled in this new gift, taking photos with it and hoping it would be a permanent piece on Wall Street. However, not everyone felt this way about the Fearless Girl, whose installation was legal but brings up women’s rights, something many people don’t want to discuss.
The history behind Charging Bull, sculpted by Arturo Di Modica, might surprise some, who likely believe the statue was commissioned by the city or financial investors. Di Modica actually spent two years building this bull following the crash of the stock market exchange in 1987 and intended for the bull to be a symbol of the resilience of the American people. He installed it overnight without a permit, and it was soon removed by the city; however, pressure from New Yorkers forced the city to compromise and install it at a small public park on Wall Street.
Similarly, Fearless Girl was installed under the cover of night but with a permit the night before International Women’s Day last month, and its presence immediately started a controversy. Fearless Girl is meant to be a symbol of the resilience of women and their determination to find equal footing amongst the financial district and in careers throughout the world that are dominated by men. Di Modica has taken issue with this and much more since the new statue directly affects the integrity of his own.
“We’re all for gender equality,” Norman Siegel, Di Modica’s attorney, told The Washington Post. “But the questions are because there are other issues.”
Though Di Modica says he doesn’t oppose the intended message, it appears that he is upset because Fearless Girl distorts his art while acting as a publicity stunt for State Street Global Advisors, who included a plaque that referenced their Gender Diversity Index SHE that tracks companies that are gender diverse. While this fund may be great, it’s the plaque that leads Di Modica to believe that this is advertising for the company while also demonizing his own work.
“The placement of the statue of the young girl in opposition to ‘Charging Bull’ has undermined the integrity [of] and modified the ‘Charging Bull,’” Siegel said at a press conference Wednesday. “The ‘Charging Bull’ no longer carries a positive, optimistic message. Rather it has been transformed into a negative force and a threat.”
Despite efforts to dismantle the petition to extend Fearless Girl’s installation, the city announced plans to keep it up until February 2018. Di Modica isn’t the only one that has opposed this statue and the true meaning behind it, despite the female empowerment it seems to boast. Cara Marsh Sheffler wrote an op-ed for The Guardian and stated that the Fearless Girl statue stood for everything that’s “wrong with feminism today.” As she pointed out,
“It’s really hard to take on Wall Street when you’re funded by Wall Street,” Sheffler wrote. “That’s something Fearless Girl is sure to find out, once she turns into Fearless Woman and actually starts rocking the boat.”
Siegel said he filed several FOIL requests with the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management and Street Activity Permit Office to find out if they had organized with State Street prior to the erection of the statute. They are planning to sue based on trademark and copyright infringements from the previously-installed plaque and the message it sends about the bull.
“I am not against women,” Di Modica said. “I am against this advertising trick.”
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