Raging Bull, the Fearless Girl and The Power of Context

I'm a big fan of Mashups. One of my favorites crosses the BeeGees song "Stayin' Alive" with AC/DC's "Back 'n Black", its called " Stayin' in Black," and it's by Wax Audio.
I like the playfulness of mashups. I also appreciate the insight it takes to know that meaning is not fixed by the symbols we use to communicate. Meaning is contextual. It's one of the first things you learn about interpreting the Bible. "Context is King," as they say.

One person who does not like mashups right now is Arturo Di Modica, the artist who created the "Charging Bull," on Wall Street. He plopped this 3.5 ton statue down in front of the New York Stock Exchange back in 1989, without permission I might add. It was removed the same day, but eventually it found a permanent home two blocks away. And since that time it has become an icon of American prosperity, as well as a kind of mascot for Wall Street, no doubt just as Di Modica intended. Now another artist comes along and plops another statue down, right in front of Di Modica's Bull. The "Fearless Girl" statue, by Kristen Visbal. This statue was commissioned by the firm State Street Global Advisors, which intends it to call attention to the lack of women leaders on Wall Street. The statues presence in front of the Bull however, also seems to send a more subversive message.  It presents people with a criticism of our economic system - in which the furious pursuit of profit threatens to trample the flesh and blood people in it's path. To me it represents the courage of our frail humanity, against our nations furious pursuit of wealth.

Di Modica is upset about this shift in context. He feels his rights have been violated.  He believes, his Bull (which to him represents the American spirit,) has been turned into a villain. Perhaps Di Modica's original message was flawed from the beginning though.  Because, Isn't that just the problem? When we only think about prosperity without considering the people around us - we are like the Bull, consumed with a blind fury that threatens to trample anyone in its path. In this sense, the presence of the little girl reminds us that our pursuit of prosperity must always acknowledge the presence and importance of human life.

Update: My friend Greg Gilbert recently visited The Fearless Girl statue and took some beautiful photographs on his blog Aemiessence Fine Arts.

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