The “Fearless Girl” statue is officially becoming a permanent fixture in Manhattan’s Financial District. By the end of 2018, artist Kristen Visbal’s bronze sculpture will be relocated to face the New York Stock Exchange, only a few blocks away from its current location at the tip of a pedestrian island on Broadway.
“Fearless Girl” was intended as a temporary installation when it was unveiled for International Women’s Day in 2016. It shows a young, defiant girl with her hands on her hips and currently stands facing Arturo Di Modica’s “Charging Bull,” the famous, 7,000-pound monument to Wall Street’s resilience. The financial firm State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) commissioned “Fearless Girl” as part of a campaign to increase the number of women on company boards. (Awkwardly, last year, the same firm paid a $5 million settlement to 300 female and 15 black employees in senior positions who were being paid less than their white male peers.)
While “Fearless Girl” has been critiqued as a symbol of corporate feminism, pedestrians have continually flocked to the figure, so much so that the city deemed the area a safety hazard. (And, for those who can’t get enough or simply can’t make it to Lower Manhattan, they can now buy miniature versions for $6,500.) The statue’s new location at the New York Stock Exchange will be blocked off from street traffic, but what will happen to Di Modica’s “Charging Bull”?
Mayor Bill de Blasio, an adamant fan of “Fearless Girl,” is determined to also move “Charging Bull,” which has been at its present location near the southern tip of Broadway since 1989. “The mayor felt it was important that the ‘Fearless Girl’ be in a position to stand up to the bull and what it stands for,” Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary, told the New York Times. “That’s why we’re aiming to keep them together.”
The Mayor, however, is likely in for a fight with Di Modica, who last year claimed that “Fearless Girl” violated his sculpture’s copyright and trademark by changing its meaning. (In response at the time, de Blasio tweeted: “Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl.”)
“We are proud to be home to the ‘Fearless Girl,'” said de Blasio in a statement. “She is a powerful symbol of the need for change at the highest levels of corporate America — and she will become a durable part of our city’s civic life.”
One wonders if the same grandiose statements would have been made if, instead of “Fearless Girl,” SSGA had gone with its original plan to install a bronze cow.