Get me back to Washington Square Arch

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(Beauty will save the world. —Dostoevsky)

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Johan Figueroa González, I’m a Puerto Rican transplanted to New York City since 2016. I work as a camouflage living statue. More than a job, I would say this is my life. While developing my artistic process, an idea came to mind: perform on the Arch in Washington Square Park, perching myself on the monument as Marcel Duchamp did it in 1916, but just 2 feet from the ground. It took me six months to develop this new statue. I changed the sheen of my make up and my costume in order to match with the Arch. The new statue was born inspired mainly in many other sculptures of ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamians, Romans and Egyptians.

Thanks to the success of the statue, The New York Times came to cover my performance (A statue Stirs to Life in Washington Square Park, Michael Wilson, Nov 14, 2017). They wrote a very touching article describing my contribution to the city as a performer. Lonely Planet came also and described me as the most realistic living statue here (A day in the life of New Yok City's most realistic living statue, James Gabriel Martin, Nov 24, 2017). Many new opportunities appeared from that moment, such as the possibility to go back to Puerto Rico after hurricanes Irma and María hit the Island.

I went back to Puerto Rico in Late December 2017. Lawyers, artists, press and unidentified heroes helped me to convince the Mayor of San Juan to give me a Responsibility Release that allows me to perform again in every square inside San Juan. This release represented the possibility to perform on the fountain right in front of the City Hall, the place I used to perform before I moved to NYC. The release does not have an expiration date, which means that every year I will be able to go back to perform on the Fountain.

A few days before I came back from PR, something happened in Washington Square Park. Someone vandalized the Arch with two inscriptions: “FUCK U” on the side I perform. And “I DON’T NEED YOU” below the east side, facing George Washington Statue. The police increased the security around The Arch. I came to the Park with the simple idea to show my spring feelings and give my best performance to the people. Four hours later from the moment I started to perform, the police came trying to convince me to interrupt my performance. I said no. They took me to a cell where I spent 30 hours. The rules are being reinforced in the Park, including the rule related with monuments.

I believe that I need to be back to The Arch because my performance is unique. I am part of the spirit of New York City. This is a place for everyone, including any type of artist who performs with love and passion.

Please, help me to get back to the monument. Sign the petition to ask the authorities to make an exception and let me perch myself on the Arch and to continue to perform for the visitors of Washington Square Park.

I want to grow old as a living statue on the Arch. The future generations of New Yorkers and visitors deserve that unique experience while walking in the most diverse city in the world, and I am sure I also deserve to give that performance.

-With love, a living statue (idem_caeli>Instagram)

(Brenda Gissele Mejía was the official editor translator for these petition. She is perfectly fluent in english, spanish and portuguese)

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