The mystery surrounding who put up a bust of Edward Snowden in a Brooklyn park has got the city buzzing Monday.
A trio of anonymous artists took responsibility for making a 100-pound, four-foot bust of the 31-year-old NSA whistleblower and placed it on top of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument at in Fort Greene Park early Monday morning.
Parks workers removed the bust around 2 p.m.; they had covered it up with a tarp a few hours before.
“We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies,” the artists said in a statement posted on the website ANIMAL New York, which chronicled the statue’s set up.
The city parks department and NYPD weren’t amused with the stunt and said the police’s Intelligence Division was investigating.
“The erection of any unapproved structure or artwork in a city park is illegal,” the parks department said in a statement.
ANIMAL New York’s founder and editor Bucky Turco said two New York based artists and a West Coast based sculptor contacted him three months ago about the project. They said the 107-year-old monument fit with their vision compared to other locations in the city during the six months the worked on the statue.
The site commemorates 11,500 Americans who died on British prison ships during the Revolutionary War.
“They went to Central Park first and they didn’t see the same relevance,” Turco said.
He said the sculptor would normally charge $30,000 for the statue, which is made out of Hydrocal, and they used a special adhesive to place it on the monument so it could be removed without damaging any of the artwork.
Turco added the artists hoped Snowden’s temporary addition to the monument would also raise awareness of its historical significance to the city.
“People walk their dogs there every day and don’t know what it is,” he said.
The artists also had a bit of serendipity since the installation came hours after a Snowden’s secret interview with John Oliver aired on HBO. Turco said the press from the interview helped to make the artists’ project go viral quicker.
Turco, who talked with the Parks Department following the unveiling, said the artists hoped the city would let the monument remain like the Wall Street bull, which was also an uncommissioned work.
“Their second best-case scenario that a wealthy patron would preserve it,” he said
Turco said they have a mold of the statute and a 3-D rendering so they can easily re-create it multiple times. An Indiego online fundraising campaign launched yesterday that aims to set up the statue in all 50 states.
“I don’t know if this the end of it,” he said