The latest work from the Illuminator, a New York-based art and activist collective known for its politically charged light projections, is an image of Christine Blasey Ford, who gave harrowing testimony last week at the confirmation hearings for US Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, describing his alleged attempts to rape her at a high school party in 1982.
Ford is the first of three women to make accusations of sexual misconduct against the judge, claims that are currently being investigated by the FBI ahead of the Senate’s final confirmation vote.
“None of this should have happened the way that it did. Thanking Christine Blasey Ford for her bravery is the least we can do,” said the Illuminator on Twitter. “It is her sense of truth and justice that we should be seeing on the benches in our courts, not in front of them.”
“We have been horrified to see an assault allegation become a partisan issue. It should have been taken seriously, dealt with anonymously, and investigated fully, without upending Dr. Ford’s entire life. To see her brought before a country on live television and made to answer questions from senators and a prosecutor was appalling,” the group added in an email to artnet News. They chose an image of Ford from the hearing “that captured the strength, composure, and steadfastness that she has displayed throughout this ordeal,” projecting the piece for just ten minutes before driving away.
The Illuminator was born from 2011’s Occupy Wall Street movement, first projecting a “99 percent” bat signal on Lower Manhattan’s Verizon Building during a rally in November of that year, just two days after protesters were cleared from Zuccotti Park.
The collective’s piece in support of Blasey Ford follows an anti-Kavanaugh light work displayed by activist and projection artist Robin Bell last week on the judge’s courthouse in Washington, DC. The artwork featured the rotating slogans “Brett Kavanaugh Is a Sexual Predator,” “Brett Kavanaugh Lied Every Time He Testified,” “Brett Kavanaugh Must Withdraw,” and “#BelieveSurvivors.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination has been widely decried, particularly among women who are concerned about his views on women’s reproductive rights and the possibility he might overturn Roe v. Wade to make abortion illegal. Many of the protestors gathering in DC and elsewhere in the country have been carrying the Kavanope poster by artist and illustrator Tracie Ching. Her take on Shepard Fairey‘s famed Barack Obama poster trades a message of hope and inspiration for one of defiance and opposition.
The Illuminator has also worked with OWS spinoff group Occupy Museums, expressing concerns over potential human rights violations at the Guggenheim’s planned Abu Dhabi outpost by projecting “Art Is Not a Luxury” and “1% Museum” onto the New York museum’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright building. At a 2014 protest at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was honoring climate change-denying billionaire David H. Koch, three Illuminator activists were arrested for their projections, later suing the police for wrongful arrest.
Other actions by the group have included tagging Queens street art mecca 5Pointz with light graffiti after developers destroyed over a decade’s worth of art and recreating an Edward Snowden monument impounded by the police in hologram form. They’ve even teamed up with the Guerrilla Girls on the occasion of the group’s 30th birthday, targeting New York’s then-new Whitney Museum Meatpacking flagship with an illuminated missive: “Dear Art Collector: Art is sooo expensive! Even for billionaires! We completely understand why you can’t pay all your employees a living wage!”
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