Brooklyn Public Sculptures to Become Superheroic TV Ads on Wednesday

01/03/2011 11:39 AM |

Stranahan sculpture in Grand Army Plaza with cape

Last year the city came down hard on Shepard Fairey for using a space set aside for public art to put up a billboard for his clothing brand, but Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 has no problem, it seems, with NBC turning four of the borough’s public sculptures into ads for a new TV show. The Brooklyn Paper‘s Andy Campbell explains that the campaign for a new series about a DIY superhero, titled The Cape, will involve putting capes on four historic public sculptures in Brooklyn on Wednesday, including that of James Samuel Thomas Stranahan in Grand Army Plaza (rendered, with cape, at right), ahead of the show’s Sunday premiere.

In its monthly newsletter, CB6 justifies the campaign’s commercialization of public space and public art thusly: “In anticipation of the show’s focus on heroism, this is a first-of-its-kind campaign to highlight historic statues from around the city.”

The show, incidentally, is about a cop who’s framed for a crime that he didn’t commit, gets some training from a circus ringleader, and continues to fight crime by donning the trademark disguise of his son’s favorite comic book superhero. Exactly at what point in this transformation from honest cop to clandestine, cloaked vigilante The Cape takes a moment to highlight Brooklyn’s historical sculptures is unclear. Meanwhile, NBC hasn’t revealed which other Brooklyn sculptures will get caped, or for how long, but in any case its analogizing of historical heroism and a network television show about a superhero is super-offensive.