Confiscated Edward Snowden Bust to Resurface at Brooklyn Museum

A guerrilla artwork gets an institutional stamp of approval.

Jeff Greenspan, and Andrew Tider, Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument 2.0 (2015), featuring an Edward Snowden bust. Courtesy of Aymann Ismail/Animal New York.
Jeff Greenspan, and Andrew Tider, Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument 2.0 (2015), featuring an Edward Snowden bust. Courtesy of Aymann Ismail/Animal New York.

A monument to Edward Snowden, the National Security Administration whistle-blower, is coming to the Brooklyn Museum in February. The four-foot-tall, 100-pound bust was previously confiscated by the New York City Police Department after a guerrilla installation in a Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park in April 2015. It will appear in “Agitprop!,” an on-going exhibition exploring contemporary art and social activism.

“I’ve never had anything in any museum,” Jeff Greenspan, who created the work with Andrew Tider, told the Brooklyn Paper. (The artists enlisted sculptor Doyle Trankina to create the fiberglass bust.)

During the night they installed the sculpture, titled The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0, at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to American soldiers who were held in floating British prisons anchored in the East River during the Revolutionary War.

Within hours, the Parks Department covered the artwork in thick blue tarp before removing it from the park. Greenspan and Tider, who initially remained anonymous, hired civil rights lawyer Ronald Kuby to represent them and to call for the statue’s return.

Andrew Tider and Jeff Greenspan before the guerilla installation of the Edward Snowden bust. Photo: Jeff Greenspan.

Andrew Tider and Jeff Greenspan before the guerilla installation of the Edward Snowden bust.
Photo: Jeff Greenspan.

“We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for,” wrote the artists in a statement, noting that “all too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze.”

Snowden is currently in exile in Moscow. His decision to release confidential documents revealing the extent of government surveillance was the subject of Citizen Four, Laura Poitras’s Academy Award-winning 2014 documentary.

Police returning the Edward Snowden bust. Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates.

Police returning the Edward Snowden bust.
Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates.

Previously, the bust was included in Postmasters Gallery‘s group show “Anonymity, no longer an option,” held at at Pierogi Gallery‘s Boiler exhibition space in Brooklyn. The artists got the statue back from police custody just one day before the exhibition’s opening on May 8. It later appeared at the 2015 LowMan Art Festival in Little Italy in August.

As punishment for the stunt, the duo was only fined $50 each for illegally entering the park at night.

Jeff Greenspan and Andrew Tider’s The Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument 2.0 will appear in “Agitprop!” beginning February 17, 2016. The Brooklyn Museum exhibition is on view through August 7, 2016.


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