Not this fearless girl apparently.
A 130cm statue of a small girl facing off the famous Wall St Bull has been causing a lot of controversy lately.
It was put in place by investment firm State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) as an advertisement for their index fund which comprises gender-diverse companies that have a higher percentage of women among their senior leadership.
The plaque below the statue states, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.” Which seems innocuous until you realise “SHE” is both the descriptive pronoun and the fund’s NASDAQ ticker symbol.
There are many reasons it is controversial and if you’d like to read more click here for this article which explains why.
I’m going to focus on one aspect, discussed here by photographer Greg Fallis…
The artist of “Charging Bull”, who by the way installed the statue without a commission and without permission in 1989 clams the “Fearless Girl” statue should be removed because it has “infringed on his own artistic copyright by changing the creative dynamic to include the other bold presence”.
He cries out, “That is not a symbol! That’s an advertising trick. My bull is a symbol for America. My bull is a symbol of prosperity and for strength.”
I don’t mind the appropriation actually.
Fearless Girl – Ostensibly an Advertisement
I think of it this way. A private citizen (artist) placed a piece of sculpture on public property without permission.
Now a private (company) has done the same thing. Does an individual have more right to do that than a company?
It is ostensibly an advertisement but it is subtle . Without knowing the backstory it will be interpreted as it stands in exactly the same way that I saw the bull multiple times, photographed myself in front of it, and assumed it was a publicly commissioned piece of work.
Anything more fearful?
Fact is there is little in the modern world more fearful than staring down the relentless wave of money spewing forth from the money markets and if a little girl can stare that down all power to her.
When looked at from this perspective, with fresh eyes, it is inspiring.
The bull stands still in her bravery, seemingly unable to move. Waiting to see what happens next.
So I understand why an old man who defiantly installed the statue 3 decades ago would think it takes away from the symbolism he intended.
But I actually don’t think she takes away from the bull at all. In fact, controversially perhaps, I think that all that argument serves to empower is the fact that she needs to be there.
Nothing is static.
When the bull was placed there maybe it needed to be a symbol of the power and longevity of the markets.
But now time has moved on. We have witnessed and experienced the havock the market can unleash upon the world when they are unfettered. When there is nothing to restrain them. Just as in reality a bull would actually do enormous damage if allowed to rage without any control in the world.
Regardless of what it is supposed to symbolise it is a Bull in the middle of the stock market district so it should be accompanied by an opposite and opposing force, originally I thought a Bear.
If all it takes is a small (fearless) girl do do that, so be it. The bull might just benefit from having that energy addressed to it.
It’s certainly been popular. A petition to make it permanent has gained over 40,000 signatures in its first week. And not unexpectedly girls have been lining up to have their photo taken with it.
Surely today, the benefit of the symbolism of an empowered young woman facing down an extraordinary force might just outweigh the ego of an aging man who built a statue a few decades ago.
Nothing is Lost
Just like standing in front of a tank and not moving, sometimes someone has to take a stand. If it’s a little girl so be it.
And who cares if it is a piece of marketing? Wasn’t Di Modica just advertising himself by placing it there in the first place?
My only concern is that this might stimulate a plethora of statues popping up all over the world. But for now, all power to Fearless Girl.
Written by Peter Spann
Peter Spann – Film Maker | Director | Business Coach | Writer | Public Speaking Coach | Presenter | Investor.
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