New York now lets the ‘fearless girl’ hold her ground

The popular “Fearless Girl” sculpture will continue to stand outside the New York Stock Exchange as city officials voted Monday to extend the sculpture’s temporary permit for 11 months. The decision comes on the condition that the city, the owner of the sculpture, and the artist return within six months with a process to determine the final fate of the work.

The vote addresses short-term concerns, with critics questioning how the bronze sculpture disrupted the city’s general public art process for five years. Critics also question why its hedge fund sponsor, State Street Global Advisors, they say, tried to sideline the sculptor’s creator in discussions about the sculpture’s future. (The artist is in an ongoing legal dispute with State Street.)

“To overcome the criticism of growing corporate power, New York City must protect its public spaces,” Todd Fine, a historian who supported the statue, said in an interview. “Today’s decision is a victory for fundamental justice and artist rights.”

“We are grateful that the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue will remain in its current position in front of the New York Stock Exchange,” State Street said in a statement Monday, adding that following the hearing results, About his desire to keep his current position for an extended period of time.

In November, the State Street Landmarks Conservation Commission was asked to keep the work for the next 10 years, with the assurance that the company would pay for its maintenance and repairs. Instead, the panel unanimously voted to place the sculpture on Broad Street’s historic cobblestone for another three years, and the final decision was postponed to the Public Design Commission, a panel appointed by the mayor to oversee the city’s art collection.

The commission on Monday seems keen to involve the artist.

“I want to hold people’s feet to the fire and resolve it,” said Signe Nielsen, the commission’s chairperson. “How can we move forward here to enable a part where the artist is able to regain control over his part as well as enable this part to remain in the universal state?”

When “Fearless Girl” first appeared in the Financial District in 2017, it received a mixed reception. While some see the statue as a shameless act of corporate feminism in a company with its own history of claiming gender inequality, others see it as a symbol of economic empowerment. As the statue moves to the New York Stock Exchange, thousands of people flock to the ground each year to take selfies.

The statue’s popularity certainly weighed in on the votes of the Public Design Commission, as there was an ongoing legal dispute between State Street and the “Fearless Girl” sculptor, Kristen Wisbal, over copyright and trademark agreements. In 2019, the company sued the artist for violating that agreement, claiming that Visbal had done “significant and irreparable damage” to the “Fearless Girl” by selling a bronze copy. The artist has filed a counter-claim that State Street has hampered his ability to spread the message of gender equality in his artwork.

“What happened to me was wrong,” Visbell said of his deal with State Street. “I was in disguise.”

(State Street did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ongoing lawsuit.)

In an interview last week, Whistler said he was changing his legal representation after spending $ 3.2 million on the lawsuit. He said he still plans to release a set of nonfunctional tokens or NFTs based on the statue in the coming months to further offset his costs.

And since State Street directly applied for the original city permit through the transportation department for “Fearless Girl,” Wisbal said she was excluded from discussing the fate of her work – unusual in a public art process that usually prioritizes the artist’s opinion.

State Street has worked hard to ensure the future of the “Fearless Girl.” According to the state disclosure form, the company has spent $ 15,000 on direct advocacy from Landmark Conservation Commission chairs Nielsen and Sarah Carroll.

Edward Patterson, a spokesman for the hedge fund, said the company had hired a consultant because of the city’s complex process for public art.

Meanwhile, elected officials have complained that their views on the “fearless girl” were not considered before the Public Design Commission’s decision. In a letter to the panel, the chairperson of Community Board 1 said the hedge fund was not involved enough with local residents.

Chairperson Tammy Melzer wrote, “A big step in the public engagement process is now being avoided that the review is ongoing.” “There are even greater concerns about the precedent it sets for other applicants when it comes to sending a message that it is acceptable for community boards and the public to participate.”

Councilman Christopher Marte, a Democrat in the region that includes the financial district, wrote with concern about the agreement while supporting a permanent plan for the sculpture. “It does not appear to be effective to exist indefinitely as a temporary work owned by a private entity,” he wrote.

The public design commissioners appear to have agreed with the councilman on Monday, making clear in their statement before the vote that a limited timeline would force the artist, the hedge fund and the city to work together in a process to ensure the “fearless girl” is found. Permanent home.

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