Art is often misinterpreted, and while that can be upsetting to the artist who labored over it, art is so subjective that misinterpretation is viewed as an occupational hazard. Those who don't have creative minds don't understand what it means to make something with your hands and put it out into the world, and perhaps more importantly, they don't care. We artists are often viewed as radical, weird, flamboyant, lazy, insane, and a number of other adjectives just because we think differently than others. And when the artist--and the art--gets a bad rep just for existing, it hurts us all.
Brooklyn-based Takeshi Miyakawa, who is well known in the art world for his designs, was arrested on Saturday for allegedly "planting false bombs" around the city. Apparently, he was only hanging illuminated "I <3 New York" shopping bags on lampposts and in trees as part of an art installation for New York Design Week 2012. Because the bags were lighted they required small battery boxes, which must have looked like bombs to passerby, because they called the police. According to a statement on his website, Miyakawa cooperated when questioned, but was arrested anyway and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
It seems every day we hear more and more stories about officials going overboard with security measures, such as in the airport, where wheelchair-bound children and elderly citizens are forced to undergo ridiculously invasive searches. While it is completely understandable for big cities to have tightened security in this day and age, it also begs the question of whether or not it is completely warranted in every situation, and also whether it is being taken to a frightening extreme. If Miyakawa's story is true--and we have no reason to doubt that it is--and a perfectly sane man was arrested for doing something that wasn't harmful to people or even property in any way, what does that mean for the rest of us? Is this what our society has become?
A Facebook page has been created that is dedicated to spreading the word about Miyakawa's story and to getting a letter about it to Mayor Bloomberg, and the page already has almost 2,000 members. The hope is that he will intervene to get the case overturned, but it is also an effort to open the eyes of the public to what is happening in the world around us.