It’s my experience that no matter how beautiful and energizing something is, if you dig long enough, you’ll figure out that flower is growing out of dead bodies.
I’m not saying ignore the dead bodies. But they don’t negate the flower.
It’s okay to take power from a piece of art even though it was made by someone who intended another message, financed by money that comes from exploitation of people like you. There is not an avenue the people who want to oppress you will not try to use. (And there is none of your own art they will not try to tear down or co-opt.) When they fail, it’s very often because you have decided to recycle their weapons into something else, something beautiful and powerful they didn’t intend.
What I’m getting at is, I don’t care at all who financed the little girl with the bull or how they meant it as an ad, which is part of why I keep not saying who they are. Who they are is: nobody I give a damn about. I’m the viewer and I decide what the sculpture means.
I can decide for example that the fact that the girl is small and anglo-coded means that even the image patriarchy finds least threatening, it tries to trample like a bull. I can enjoy the way the girl – who I don’t view as remotely victorious – clearly casts the bull as a villain, which has been my interpretation of that bull since it was installed when I was myself a little girl about that size. (It is supposedly a symbol of financial optimism.) I can, and do, interpret the revised two-figure sculpture as a condemnation of robber-baron rampaging capitalism rather than any kind of bullshit about corporate boards fixing everything if they were only more gender-equal.
That’s the art which I have made with my eyes and brain as an artist looking at these figures. I didn’t have to spend any money to do it. I never had to say thank you. If somebody else finds it sad, or it makes them angry, that doesn’t change my own ability to laugh at it, swing it around, do a little dance.
Not many of us are in the habit of going to art museums and asking who financed each painting as the main avenue for intepreting the painting, so this is not an unusual habit of mind to have.
Friends with art crit backgrounds, I am looking for a term which may not exist, that describes a specific failure that sometimes occurs within postmodernism where you are so in the habit of deconstruction that you dismantle even the things that are working for you. It sounds a little bit like entropy, but what I am describing is more like if you’re trying to sand the veneer off something but then because you enjoy sanding you keep sanding all the way through the arm of the chair and have no chair.
Ed says: This is going to bug me. I know there is a character that embodies religious adherence to a doctrine or methodology even when it is self-destructive. I feel like Satre covered something like this, probably to criticize a philosophy.
Rex says: It is a well executed work. There are numerous sculptures I’ve seen since moving here that have actually meant something to me. This was more a tourist’s snapshot background to me than a moment.Sculpture is often about the space NOT filled, like music is often the unplayed note and writing is about shaving off all the unnecessary ice for a fragile reveal. I have seen the Bull, and the Girl improves the total piece. A physical embodiment of balance in size and temperment. Still the mere self-glorifying presence of a public artwork in that WallStreet setting makes me see a monstrous roll of hundred dollar bills spinning while saying “Look at me. Look at me!!”