El Grito

El Grito is a collaborative installation produced with Joe Wippler that envisions a future civil war in the US. It was installed inside the memorial Arch in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, NY as part of the group exhibition “Trophies from the Civil War.” The installation consists of: a massive graffiti mural of 9-foot-tall armed men and women. In the flames of their guns the theme of the artwork is announced: ““It took a civil war for Black people to be changed from chattel slaves to wage slaves…We must fight another civil war to end this system which enslaves the planet.” On either side “eternal flames” are lit–Real Molotov cocktails made from 40oz. Old English 800 beer bottles. Across the stairwell are life-size cop and National Guard uniforms (stretched on headless mannequins) bleeding and dying. A bullhorn protrudes from the wall; a woman announces:
Sisters and brothers, we aren’t alone. Yesterday, comrades in Los Angeles, Chicago and DC launched an insurrection. Today, we control several other projects, ghettos, and neighborhoods in this city and the party has led armed uprisings in cities across the country. This is different from the riots and rebellions of the past year. This is a nationwide insurrection and for the first time in the history of this country, we have a real chance to go for power, to defeat their armed forces, to overthrow their government, and put the oppressed in power…We are fighting for a world where no handful of ‘haves’ sits on top of us have-nots. No more whites oppressing other nationalities. No more men oppressing women…”

The men who ran New York City did not like El Grito. It became the center of controversy and came under attack from mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the New York Post, the NYC Police Chief, radio host Bob Grant, and Guy Molinari the Staten Island Borough president. During the controversy, the New York State Council on the Arts took back their funding for the artists honoraria for show. Curtis Sliwa, radio personality and head of the guardian Angels, acted as point man for the assaults and he and his toy-cop Angels arrived armed with buckets of paint and attempted to vandalize the art several occasions during the duration of the exhibit. The artists in the show and many others resisted and defeated these attacks and kept the exhibit open, un-defaced and un-altered for the run of the show.