A bizarre new statue depicting a naked woman sporting medusa-like braids and the signature lace collar of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just been installed alongside statues of Moses and Zoroaster atop the courthouse of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. The artist calls it a symbol of female empowerment, but the public sees it differently.
According to Fox News, which refers to the 8-foot tall gold statue as a “satanic golden medusa,” it has “tentacle-like” arms and is standing on a lotus flower. The hair is parted in the middle and twisted into braids similar to the goat horns of the baphomet.
Created by Pakistani-born Shahzia Sikander, 53, who served on the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art Monuments and Markers in 2017, she titled the statue “NOW” because women’s rights are under siege since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Her design represents this struggle.
In a statement, Sikander noted that “the luminous figure is also a nod to RBG – as seen in the detail adorning her collar. With Ginsburg’s death and the reversal of Roe, there was a setback to women’s constitutional progress.”
This is why her design portrays women as “fierce” and her placement atop a building that previously sported only male figures of lawgivers such as Moses, Justinian, King Louis IV of France, Manu, and Zoroaster, as “a form of resistance.”
According to Sikander, who defines femininity as “the tension between women and power,” the goat-like horns signify “sovereignty” and “autonomy” and the lotus flower out of which the statue appears to emerge symbolizes “a deeper truth.”
“The form of the figure is stylized and enigmatic,” she writes. “It is female and fluid. Part of the body loops out and into itself, in place of arms and feet, offering a non-fixed idea to the notion of the body—something amorphous, like the self.”
The artist’s lofty ideas do not appear to have translated any better in 2023 than they did in 2001, in the wake of 9/11, when she withdrew from a commission after another bizarre creation of hers – that of a female avatar holding a sword – was misinterpreted. As she told The New York Times, the statue was meant to represent female resilience and potency but was instead interpreted as conveying violence, something she might have foreseen during that unprecedented crisis in our nation’s history.
Even though she sees it as “poetic justice” that her latest design is now sitting atop a State Supreme Court building, she’s not exactly receiving high marks for her artistry.
According to Fox, Twitter exploded with criticism almost the moment the statue was installed. New York City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino asked, “Was there any public input whatsoever before a satanic golden medusa demon with tentacle arms was installed atop a downtown courthouse? Who thinks this is okay? And how do we go about removing it?"
Christopher Bedford, the executive editor of an upcoming journal at Common Sense Society, compared the statue to a demon and a "terrifying" civilization that practiced human sacrifice found inside an archeological dig. "It is designed to unsettle and spread ugliness," he said.
Another wrote, “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.’ Sounds about right.”
“I wasn’t a fan of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” one man tweeted, “but even she deserves better than that ugly, satanic-looking eyesore.”
Others compared the statue to “a prop from Dr. Who or Ghostbusters.”
“Justice is no longer blind,” one Tweet surmised. “It’s just ugly and stupid.”
Thankfully, the statue will be removed in June and shipped to Houston, Texas.
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