As reported here last month, Washington Square Park’s “living statue,” Johan Figueroa-González, was arrested on the Arch by the New York City Police Department on Friday April 13. The performance artist was the subject of an extensive New York Times profile in November focusing on his performances on the Arch. He utilized the monument regularly for his art, even while Ai Weiwei’s exhibit was allowed to take over the space beneath it 24/7 for four months.
The artist, who has been a park regular for over two years, has launched a Change.org petition to get back to the Arch! You can also click the image above to visit it.
The petition reads in part (this is excerpted):
(Beauty will save the world. —Dostoevsky)
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Johan Figueroa González, I’m a Puerto Rican transplanted to New York City since 2016. I work as a camouflage living statue. More than a job, I would say this is my life. While developing my artistic process, an idea came to mind: perform on the Arch in Washington Square Park, climbing the monument as Marcel Duchamp did it in 1916, but just 2 feet from the ground. It took me six months to develop this new statue. I changed the sheen of my make up and my costume in order to match with the Arch. The new statue was born inspired mainly in many other sculptures of ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamians, Romans and Egyptians. …
I went back to Puerto Rico in Late December 2017. Lawyers, artists, press and unidentified heroes helped me to convince the Mayor of San Juan to give me a Responsibility Release that allows me to perform again in every square inside San Juan. This release represented the possibility to perform on the fountain right in front of the City Hall, the place I used to perform before I moved to NYC.
A few days before I came back from PR, something happened in Washington Square Park. Someone vandalized the Arch with two inscriptions: “FUCK U” on the side I perform. And “I DON’T NEED YOU” below the east side, facing George Washington Statue. The police increased the security around The Arch. I came to the Park with the simple idea to show my spring feelings and give my best performance to the people. Four hours later from the moment I started to perform, the police came trying to convince me to interrupt my performance. I said no. They took me to a cell where I spent 30 hours.
I believe that I need to be back to The Arch because my performance is unique. I am part of the spirit of New York City. This is a place for everyone, including any type of artist who performs with love and passion.
Please, help me to get back to the monument. …
It ends: -With love, a living statue
You can sign the petition here.
Previously at Washington Square Park Blog: