The massive mural David Choe painted on the high-profile wall on the corner of Houston Street and Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side has been defaced, less than a week after the artist finished painting it. As Bowery Boogie first reported, the piece now has the letters “BTM” scrawled across its entirety, indicating that the crew of Big Time Mafia had paid it a visit with a very serious agenda.
Choe’s mural has been the center of controversy over the past week, as he has a disturbing history of sexual assault that evidently, and tellingly, hasn’t crippled his career. Hyperallergic’s Caroline Caldwell recently described this past as well as Choe’s flippant attitude toward sexual assault, which he once dismissed as “bad storytelling in the style of douche.”
It’s unclear whether BTM’s tag is an expression of solidarity with those protesting against what they as a normalization of rape culture — signed off on by the curators of the wall, Goldman Global Arts, the creative offshoot of Goldman Properties. The massive, black letters may be unrelated, standing as an expression of general resentment toward Choe. (The Bowery wall has long been a popular target for vandals and graffiti writers.)
An unidentified someone, however, did leave a message for Choe last week — now gone — that leaves no room for interpretation:
Someone spray painted “rapist” on David Choe’s new mural earlier today! pic.twitter.com/Td3qNH9QMc
— Bucky Turco (@buckyturco) June 6, 2017
Update, 6/13: BTM member Katsu uploaded a timelapse of the spray-painting on Instagram this morning.
Update, 6/15: The wall received another splash of paint and a tag this morning, courtesy of BTM member Blake.
David Choe’s mural this morning on Houston & the Bowery… pic.twitter.com/fGF09UM3dO
— evgrieve (@evgrieve) June 14, 2017
Update, 6/17: David Choe has finally broke his silence and he posted the following message late last night on Instagram. The message comes before a planned protest at the wall tomorrow, and it was accompanied by a plain white image with no discernible objects or image. It reads:
How does one apologize for a lifetime of doing wrong? Through my past three years of recovery and rehabilitation, I’ve attempted to answer that question through action and understanding. In my life I’ve struggled deeply with an unnatural amount of hatred I’ve had towards myself. Most of my life I’ve been a scared hurt shame filled person, trying to mask my insecurities with false confidence and an outwardly negative behavior to validate myself as worthy. In a 2014 episode of DVDASA, I relayed a story simply for shock value that made it seem as if I had sexually violated a woman. Though I said those words, I did not commit those actions. It did not happen. I have ZERO history of sexual assault. I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words. Non-consensual sex is rape and it is never funny or appropriate to joke about. I was a sick person at the height of my mental illness ,and have spent the last 3 years in mental health facilities healing myself and dedicating my life to helping and healing others through love and action. I do not believe in the things I have said although I take full ownership of saying them. Additionally, I do not condemn anyone or have any ill will towards those who spread hate and speak out negatively against me, no one will ever hate me more than I hated myself back then. Today I’ve learned to love and forgive others just as much as myself. It’s been a rough journey but i am grateful to be alive and to dedicate myself to shining the light I have found within myself and live in service and gratitude. I am truly sorry for the negative words and dark messages I had put out into the world.
UPDATE, 6/18: The Bowery wall mural by David Choe was painted over this morning according to multiple sources. @evgrieve has posted an image of the whitewashed wall: