A state court building in New York City unveiled a new art project that is not going over well online.
The sculpture, entitled “NOW,” was installed on the roof of the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State, First Department on Madison Avenue last week as part of an art exhibit from artist Shahzia Sikander. The statue is meant to represent the legacy of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but New Yorkers and other viewers on Twitter noticed that the statue is both unsightly and unsettling.
Corporate consultant Andrew Beck shared pictures of the art installation in a Twitter thread. “A new statue atop a New York City courthouse,” he wrote. “The artist says it’s part of an ‘urgent and necessary cultural reckoning underway as New York reconsiders traditional representations of power in public spaces and recasts civic structures to better reflect 21st-century social mores.’”
A new statue atop a New York City courthouse. The artist says it’s part of an “urgent and necessary cultural reckoning underway as New York reconsiders traditional representations of power in public spaces and recasts civic structures to better reflect 21st-century social mores.” pic.twitter.com/4IFRj7hCsf
— Andrew Beck (@AndrewBeckUSA) January 25, 2023
The roof of the court building is lined with statues of famous lawgivers from history and legend. The statue is situated on the corner of the building, with brazen metal standing out against the weathered stone statues next to it. It depicts a woman with hair braided into long spirals like ram’s horns, and a web of tentacle-like protrusions at each arm, wearing a lace apron like the one Ginsburg wore over her robe, and standing on a pink lotus flower.
A profile for the statue written by The New York Times said that the statue is the first female figure placed on the court building. “She [the statue] is a fierce woman and a form of resistance in a space that has historically been dominated by patriarchal representation,” Sikander told The New York Times. Sikander said she entitled the piece “NOW” because it is needed in the current year when abortion rights are being challenged in the wake of the Supreme Court returning abortion law to the states in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Sikander has another piece with similar designs placed in the area. That statue, an 18-foot tall recreation of the same figure, but with a metal cage symbolizing a hoop skirt, is entitled “Witness” and is placed in Madison Square Park across from the court building. The two statues together are entitled, “Havah…to breathe, air, life.”
“Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.” Never fading words by Coretta Scott King. Inspired and humbled that Havah..to breathe, air, life’ ‘NOW’ & ‘Witness’ are open on MLK day Jan16, 2023 ✊🏽❤️⚖️ @MadSqParkNYC pic.twitter.com/TSpDl5C4TH
— Shahzia Sikander (@shahziasikander) January 16, 2023
But Twitter users immediately pointed out that besides being visually unpleasant, the sculpture idolizes abortion and has pagan or even demonic motifs.
“They turned abortion into a pagan idol to worship and put it on a courthouse,” Billy Gribbin, communications director for Republican Georgia Congressman Rich McCormick, wrote on Twitter.
“The New York Courthouse has added this aesthetic atrocity to its sculptures of great lawmakers,” Daily Wire podcast host Andrew Klavan wrote. “It is meant to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s pro-abortion stance by depicting a woman with demonic goat-horns who has clearly lost the power to reproduce. Or something.”
“The next Republican mayor of New York should not only remove but publicly destroy this monstrosity,” Daily Wire host Michael Knowles added.
“New York has put an androgynous baphomet with tentacles digging into its own torso on top of the courthouse in order to ‘better reflect 21st century social mores.’” writer Brandon Meeks said. “Sounds about right.”
“[T]he ugliness is the point,” New Founding and American Firebrand digital director Logan Hall added.
“What a visual desecration of the landscape,” America First Legal Foundation founder Stephen Miller tweeted.
“WOW the baphomet/Aries symbolism is… a lot,” one Twitter user chimed in. “Especially given the opposite or sister sign Libra represents the scales of balance or ‘arms’ of Justice.”