Frank Rizzo was a notoriously controversial Police Commissioner and Philadelphia Mayor from the 1970s. He was well known for facilitating a low crime rate in Philadelphia through his abusive tactics like bringing a group of Black Panthers into the street and making them strip naked, rounding up homosexuals on Saturday nights, limiting access to resources for African Americans, and using abusive and intolerable language. One hope for this installation is to discourage the celebration of this contemptuous figure, and I have done this by dressing him up in garb that he would find deplorable and offensive.
Another hope is to facilitate a conversation about whether this cultural view of a man being emasculated and “disrespected” by simply dressing him in feminine clothing is representative of and in accordance to current beliefs that women are viewed as equal to men. Essentially, I hope this installation will raise questions about our cultural beliefs such as, “Would it be universally ‘disrespectful’ or ‘degrading’ if I were to install pants and a suit jacket onto a statue of a female figure?”, and “Why wouldn’t that installation have the same social impact?”
An additional hope with this installation is to retort Rizzo’s assertions of heterosexual [white] male social and cultural superiority. Figuratively I hope to accomplish this by ridiculing the bigotry he represents through the use of a ‘feminine craft’ to create a ‘feminine’ outfit conceptualized by a woman artist. Literally I hope to accomplish this by being a woman artist who crawled on top of the statue commemorating him without permission and covered it with a bikini because I wanted to and I could.
Yet another hope with this installation is substantiate the concept that women can be assertive, creative, passionate, audacious, and funny. In the end, my final hope with this installation is to dispel the myth surrounding assertive women who advocate for equal rights, of this sense that women with these particular beliefs are always serious and can never have a sense of humor.
Thank you to Conrad Benner of @Streetsdept for photographing this installation and blogging about the project! I would not be able to share my work without his support!
And the subsequent removal 3 minutes after the installation: