Takeshi installation

Takeshi’s art installation/lit-up plastic bag/bomb (images courtesy Takeshi Miyakawa Design)

File this under WTF: Japanese designer Takeshi Miyakawa, who lives in Brooklyn, was arrested for hanging a plastic bag filled with LED lights from a tree in Greenpoint, and he’s now being held without bail for 30 days. Miyakawa’s installation of glowing “I Love NY” bags was meant as a tribute to the city, in celebration of Design Week, but when he left one in Williamsburg on Friday, the bomb squad was called in and all hell broke loose. Police arrested him later on charges of planting false bombs.

It turns out the woman who complained about the first plastic bag was actually just pulling a Liz Lemon — aka trying to figure out how to get the damn thing out of the tree: “I called 311 asking how to get that thing off my tree, if it was my responsibility or the city’s … the 311 woman put me through to 911 then the cops came. I left for work,” she wrote to Gothamist.

Miyakawa installing a test run

Miyakawa installing a test run (click to enlarge)

Miyakawa, who originally moved from Tokyo to New York to work with architect Rafael Viñoly and established his own furniture design firm in 2001, appeared in court yesterday morning, where he faced way more charges than seems necessary: two counts of placing a false bomb or a hazardous substance, reckless endangerment, placing a false bomb or false substance in the 2nd degree and criminal nuisance in the 2nd degree. If that wasn’t enough, Judge Martin Murphy also ignored the prosecution’s request to fix bail and decided to keep Miyakawa for an additional 30 days for a mental health evaluation.

Sure, hanging a plastic bag with wires coming out of it in a city as terrorism-obsessed as ours may not be the best idea — but no bail and a mental health evaluation? Really?

Judging from reactions on Twitter, Brooklynites easily know an art project (or trash) when they see one; the NYPD officers and Judge Murphy … not so much. Luckily one person in the 1,757-member “Free Takeshi Miyakawa” Facebook group has made it easy to call Judge Murphy and express your opinion:

Hon. Martin P. Murphy
Kings County Supreme Court
320 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(347) 401-9061

We tried contacting both Miyakawa’s studio and Louis Lim, a designer and artist who works with Miyakawa and has issued a press release on his behalf, but received no response.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...

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