In the summer of 2011, a large mural of Bradley Manning appeared near McCarren Park. Straddled between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the image had “Hero” written above the smiling face of the world’s most famous whistleblower, who had supposedly leaked hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents to Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
I tracked down the artist of the mural, known as Bamn, who agreed to an email interview.
GP: When did you paint the mural? How long did it take?
BAMN: I did this mural early June 2011 with a paint roller. It didn’t take more than thirty minutes. I had to work fast because I didn’t really have permission.
GP: Why did you choose that particular spot for the mural?
BAMN: There was a suggestion from a friend who works nearby that something should go on the wall. I didn’t ask for permission, but I figured that if I was questioned my friend could back-up my “story”. What amazes me is that the owners haven’t removed it.
GP: The mural is shocking, given that Manning is the most public figure in a long time to possibly be tried for treason. I was very surprised the first time I saw it. Was this your intention?
BAMN: What’s shocking to me is that whistle-blowing is considered treason. I support Manning and Wikileaks wholeheartedly, but the mural was painted for the public. My only intention is to spark dialogue.
GP: What has been the reaction to the mural? How long until “Traitor” was written over it? I found this guy on the web who was not a fan.
BAMN: Reactions to the mural have been overwhelmingly positive. Every time I pass that wall I see people posing and taking pictures.
It took about a month for someone to build up the courage to write “traitor” across the mural. Then, according to my friend who works nearby, within an hour some random guy* put black tape over the word “traitor.” Then the next day my friend fixed the mural with paint. I expected dialogue, but never did I imagine it to be so immediate and literal.
As for that blogger, I don’t pay attention to people who can’t formulate an intelligent argument.