Last weekend, sculptor Alex Gardega added his own third statue to what is now a growing bronze tableau on Wall Street, angering fans of the “Fearless Girl,” a work erected in honor of International Women’s Day that depicts a young woman defiantly staring down Wall Street’s famous bronze “Charging Bull.”
The new statue, “Sketchy Dog,” depicts a small, pug-type canine raising his leg to pee on Fearless Girl’s foot. Gardega left it up for only three hours, but it was enough to send social media into a panic.
He was quickly branded a “snowflake,” a “misogynist” and an “a**hole” for “diminishing” the Fearless Girl and, apparently, reinforcing the ideals of Patriarchy and oppression of the entire female gender.
But Gardega says he wasn’t trying to “diminish” Fearless Girl—at least, not anymore than Fearless Girl diminished the Charging Bull. He says he was making a statement both about how derivative works change the meaning of art, and how corporations co-opt movements to their own ends.
Fearless Girl, Gardega says, interferes with the “vision” of Charging Bull, and not just because the girl seems to be staring down an immensely successful market, making her defiance inexplicable from an economic standpoint. It makes the “Bull” a “Bully”—and that ruins the original artists vision for his work: a symbol of progress and defiance in and of itself.
“I have a lot of empathy for the creator of the bull, Arturo,” Gardega told local media. “I’m a pretty happy person, not seething or angry and certainly not anti-feminist. My piece is not without a sense of humor. There is plenty of room for Fearless Girl it just interferes with another artists work/vision.”
Its somewhat ironic, then, that people would be angry about Fearless Girl’s commodification, but willing to ignore Charging Bull’s.
Gardega also cautioned those who would embrace Fearless Girl because they think its a symbol of a political ideology. The work, he says, was erected largely as a publicity stunt by a Wall Street hedge fund—and it co-opts feminism for corporate ends. Those who defend Fearless Girl are defending corporate greed, not women’s rights.
But, the artist’s explanation—or even the fact that the peeing dog statue was only up for three hours—didn’t stop the collective emotional outcry to save the helpless statue from another statue.