NEW YORK – The Bradley Manning mural in Greenpoint, overlooking McCarren Park on Nassua Avenue, has lasted quite a long time considering the controversial content and size. The street artist Big Bamn painted the piece with a roller last summer: a smiling Manning with the word “Hero” emblazoned across the top of the portrait.
Manning is the former Army soldier charged with aiding the enemy by releasing classified data to the website WikiLeaks last spring. The piece isn’t particularly striking aside from its size and prominent placement in the neighborhood, but what makes it most interesting is the dialogue it creates in the community. The street art has received its own vandalism—the word “Traitor” on Manning’s nose. It was then covered up with paint, but its shadow still shows through the white paint.
When an artist makes a statement as unambiguous as Big Bamn’s, it invites a rebuttal, and the public aspect of street art forces viewers to take their own stance as the back and forth takes place.
While some street art furthers the artistic dialogue, pieces like those of Big Bamn focus more on taking a political stance to a public forum.
Big Bamn stays quiet on the street artist scene, maintaining a flickr site but little else to advertise his work. His photostream shows his other political street art including pieces promoting Occupy Wall Street.
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