Did You See New York’s Short-Lived Edward Snowden Statue?

Journalist Glenn Greenwood, who helped Edward Snowden blow the whistle on the NSA, poses with a statue of the fugitive by Jim Dessicino in Union Square during New York's Art in Odd Places. Photo: Jeremy Scahill, via Twitter.
Journalist Glenn Greenwood, who helped Edward Snowden blow the whistle on the NSA, poses with a statue of the fugitive by Jim Dessicino in Union Square during New York's Art in Odd Places. Photo: Jeremy Scahill, via Twitter.

Journalist Glenn Greenwood, who helped Edward Snowden blow the whistle on the NSA, poses with a statue of the fugitive by Jim Dessicino in Union Square during New York’s Art in Odd Places.
Photo: Jeremy Scahill, via Twitter.

No, the computer wiz and whistle blower who released National Security Agency secrets hasn’t returned to the US, but a 10-foot-tall statue of fugitive Edward Snowden was on display in Union Square as part of “FREE,” the 10th annual Art in Odd Places (AiOP) public art festival, which overran New York’s 14th Street this weekend.

As reported by Gothamist, the monumental sculpture is the work of University of Delaware graduate student Jim Dessicino. He created the gypsum cement, steel, and foam statue over a four-month period.

“When the story broke about Edward Snowden, I was thinking a lot about surveillance and monumentality and how we remember things,” Dessicino told BuzzFeed News. “How public space is used and how people in history are remembered.”

He felt that Snowden’s actions, “a very public act where he sacrificed his own personal comfort and security to let us all know something,” deserved public recognition, and should not be forgotten. “He’s kind of dead in a way, because he can’t be here, and so he becomes a subject that can be memorialized.”

In an odd yet appropriate turn of events, journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first published the Snowden leaks in the Guardian, was on hand for the statue’s unveiling. “The first person to see it was Glenn Greenwald right when we took it out of the van,” said Dessicino of the strange coincidence. “He was just having breakfast. One of his friends came over and was like ‘. . . is that Edward Snowden?’ ‘Yes it is!’ ‘Well, that’s Glenn Greenwald!'”

If you weren’t in Union Square this weekend, you’ve already missed your chance to see the elusive Snowden—which is only fitting. “It’s not cast in bronze,” Dessicino points out. “The verdict is still open about Snowden, so therefore he can’t have a totally permanent monument.”


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