Late July, many New York City residents were left scratching their heads after realizing the American flags that normally sit atop the Brooklyn Bridge were replaced by white flags. Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for the New York Times, received a call this past week from two Berlin artists who claimed to have pulled the doozy and submitted video proof (above).
It’s no coincidence the white flags appeared on the anniversary of German architect John Roebling‘s death, July 22, 1869, who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. The two artists claiming responsibility for the white flags, Misca Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke, insist the gesture was not a form of anti-Americanism. The two cite Gordon Matta-Clark, who climbed the Clocktower Building, as having been an inspiration for the stunt and believe that John Roebling “moved to the States because he couldn’t realize his dreams here in Germany, and the bridge for us is a symbol of freedom and creative opportunity.”
Leinkauf and Wermke claim they wished to honor “the beauty of public space” and that “from [their] Berlin background, [they] were a little surprised that it got the reaction it did,” that they “didn’t intend to embarrass the police.” Though, Leinkauf did note why he could understand everyone’s reaction, considering the country’s past with terrorism. “We always face the consequences… this is part of the work, to have an open discussion,” Leinkauf said.
They say that they scaled the cables officials use to climb atop the towers with the flags in their backpacks between 3 and 5 am on July 22, but did not disclose whether others had helped. Before mentioning that they would return the American flags, Leinkauf made sure to mention that they folded the American flags as would be ritually acceptable.
We can’t deny that this stunt required sand. Shit, respects to Leinkauf and Wermke.
[h/t NY Times]