Last week, I entered Liberty. Other than a staircase, bolts and framework...it was pretty empty.
It was not cold or warm. It seemed to have no temperature. I have always wanted to be inside liberty. I passed her serval times and wondered what it would be like. Now, I was here. It was surreal. Empty but surreal.
From the outside, her presence offered the concept of hope and freedom for everyone on land and for those who passed her when travelling towards land. For those who travelled away from her, maybe the concept of hope and freedom, the concept of liberty, was being left behind.
The staircase was very tight. It would have been impossible for a person of a certain weight and width to climb. Oneself is not of a plump stature, and for me, it was a tight squeeze. To be inside liberty was optional for everyone, providing you paid for a ticket. However, to climb liberty, the obese, physically impaired and wheelchair bound would be left to look upwards. Upwards towards the bolts, framework and ascending staircase that led to her crown. Maybe liberty is not a fixed concept, but a concept that evolves with the development of civilisations. However, the physical mass that is the ‘Statue of Liberty’ will always be fixated in time. A time when Liberty was being proposed and flaunted upon American shores, roughly, 20 years after slavery was ‘ended’. Due to its construction and permeance, it seems very unlikely that the Statue of Liberty will become functionally liberal.
I enjoyed climbing the stairs. As I made my way up, I took several breaks to observe the sculptural creases in her copper dress, from inside the dress. I found it very beautiful. I felt as though I was her leg, looking at the garment that covered me from the gaze of the world. I peered at the inside of her heel. The heel that is raised from the outside, breaking free from the shackles of restraints, taking her first steps towards liberty. I could not help but compare the raised heel of the staue, to the raised heels of many women that are present in social media images today. There are not many full-length photographs of girls/women that do not depict one of their heels being raised to portray a more curved shape to either the body or leg. Again, the raised heel is offering a visual concept of something that does not exist, yet simultaneously, existing within an image or a physical image; such as the statue or photograph. The line between reality and fabrication is murky. Have you ever been doing a painting and mixed all the colours together? You get this weird murky colour. That colour is this situation.
Anyway, me and my girlfriend reach the top. I am inside the crown of the Statue of Liberty. To my surprise, it is fairly small with not much room. It has been a suppressed dream to do this. I have become familiar with the Statue of Liberty through films. She has become such an icon since childhood. Now, I am inside her head, looking out. I am her eyes. Her brain. I cannot move her. I can only observe. I have Locked-in-syndrome. I see the helicopters flying around her head, or is it my head? Boats pass back and forth in the water below and beyond. The city opposite, New York, is still, yet behind the beautiful skyline, life is unfolding. I can feel the wind moving the statue. Her head is swaying. Two members of staff are present in the crown. One explains that the head moves up to 3 inches when the wind is strong. I take a moment to gaze at the city. I did wonder, whether people were in the crown, looking at the city, when the planes crashed into the world trade centre towers? I did not want to spoil the moment, so I didn’t ask. But if they were, I wondered what they would have been thinking? I am surprised a plane did not hit the statue. Not many fatalities of course, but an act of smashing through the American symbol of freedom and democracy would have been a very dramatic statement. I took a really nice photo from the crown. You could see the shadow of the statue on the water below. I felt it was my shadow.
I began speaking to a member of staff. He enthusiastically produced a cheap plastic folder of images and proceeded to explain the statues history. I really enjoyed it. I tried to create a conversation about the statue. However, he would pause, ever so slightly after I spoke, and continue with his monologue. Both Gemma and I, would nod and reply with, “Wow, that’s interesting” or “Crazy” or “Amazing”. We were interested, but we were also very aware that he was not interested in us, so we were being polite by listening. Before we descended, he spoke about the statue being refurbished around 1984 – 1986. I got excited because I was born in 86’ and Gemma was born in 84’. I found this romantic. He was not excited as me. I think Gemma liked it.
I found the year of this refurbishment to be highly interesting. In the late 1980’s the ungoverned and free space of the internet was beginning to erupt within the public sphere. From the 1970’s, it was already available to universities for sharing information. However, the public were slowly having the opportunity to an alternative existence, yet they were not aware of what it would become. Simultaneously, the Statue of Liberty, was being refurbished. It was as though the statue was being prepared for a new era of liberty within civilisation. The statue’s torch was replaced in 1985. The igniting of this new flame was a beacon for the new world that was approaching. A green light for humanity to become liberal. The more recognisable internet, that the public know today, was developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990. Several years later, the .com boom happened. Now society, in some way, have complete liberty in a non-physical world. There are no boundaries. You can be anything or anyone. Go anywhere at any time. Say and believe what you want! I understand why this space is attractive to the masses. Yet, as we are trained animals of comfort and certainty, we are beginning to place restrictions and societal rules upon a thing that was created for freedom anonymity.
With the introduction of social networks, relationships, friendships, business expansions and online opportunities, a code of conduct seems to have followed. The internet has moved from being an ambiguous and playful existence to a non-physical, bloated and narcissistic representation of actual society. We are attempting to place societal values in a realm of ambiguity. While we exist in the real world, we have an alternative existence online. Both existences need to be social managed. We have become surveillors and the surveyed. Welcome to Liberty...
After we left the statue, Gemma and I went for something to eat at the café. I got a burger and Gemma got a pizza. It came to $35 dollars. Gemma wanted soup but they did not have any.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Statue of Liberty.