Fearless Girl, Charging Bull… Sketchy Dog?
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the Wall Street standoff between the Fearless Girl and the Charging Bull sculptures. It’s quite clear that Americans are still split between Team Girl or Team Bull, but now there is a new player in the mix. Recently, Charging Bull gained a new ally in the form of a temporary installation named Sketchy Dog, who spent his few hours of fame urinating on the girl.
Sculptor Alex Gardega’s creation was not meant to be permanent, and lived on Wall Street for less than a day before Gardega removed the piece. Nevertheless, it has certainly caused a huge divide in New York City and beyond. Many supporters of Fearless Girl claim that the urinating pug is a symbol of fragile masculinity, but others commend Gardega for siding with artists’ rights and protecting the integrity of the bull created by Arturo Di Modico.
Gardega, like Di Modico, said he does not have a problem with the idea behind the girl, but criticized her interplay with the bull. While Fearless Girl is no doubt a strong symbol of female empowerment, her presence also acts to vilify the bull, which was not originally meant to symbolize masculinity, but economic the prowess of the country. Gardega defended his little dog, saying “I have a lot of empathy for the creator of the bull, Arturo… 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 artist’s work/vision.” Neither Di Modico or Kristen Visbal (the artist behind Fearless Girl) have commented on Gardega’s new addition.
Gardega also takes issue with the corporate feminism and marketing tactics reresented by Fearless Girl, which was commissioned by a firm rather than created independently by an artist like Di Modico. Because she was created later and paid for by a powerful corporation, the girl is not just standing up to the bull – she is steamrolling him by shifting him from the hero of Wall Street to the new villain.
However, even if Gardega is protesting the way the girl shifts the meaning of the bull, rather than the girl herself, many disagree with his tactic. Rolling Stone’s Helena Fitzgerald responded, “There is still a meaningful distinction between actual criticism and name calling, between pointing out the lie of corporate feminism, and telling girls they deserve to be pissed on by dogs.” According to NPR, Fearless Girl fans believe that Gardega’s representation of women standing up to misogyny is also important. One commenter said, “Shout out to the male artist who made the peeing dog statue for demonstrating why there’s a need for the Fearless Girl.”
Is there a way to speak against the reinterpretation of the Charging Bull without disrespecting the Fearless Girl? Maybe Gardega could have created a statue to separate Fearless Girl and Charging Bull, or to enhance the meaning of either rather than scorn the girl. While Americans continue to choose sides between Fearless Girl and Charging Bull, one thing is clear: Sketchy Dog has not done much to ease the tensions.