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View of Marc Quinn and Jen Reid’s A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) in Bristol, England.

New Bristol Statue of Black Lives Matter Activist Removed After 24 Hours

In the predawn hours yesterday in Bristol, England, a ten-person team led by British artist Marc Quinn installed a statue of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid on a plinth that recently held an eighteen-foot-tall likeness of seventeenth-century slave trader Edward Colston—a monument that made worldwide headlines last month when it was toppled by Black Lives Matter demonstrators, including Reid’s husband, and rolled into Bristol Harbor.

Quinn reached out to Reid about collaborating after seeing an Instagram post of her standing atop the plinth with her fist raised in a Black Power salute. The pair worked together in secret for several weeks and released a joint artist statement on Wednesday, saying the work is not “a permanent solution to what should be there—it’s a spark which we hope will help to bring continued attention to this vital and pressing issue.”

The resin and steel sculpture, titled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid), was installed swiftly and without the permission of local authorities. Upon hearing of the monument, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees declared “the future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol,” highlighting that the unauthorized statue was “the work and decision of a London-based artist.” The piece, which was funded entirely by Quinn, stood for just twenty-four hours before it was deinstalled by the city today.

Despite the statue’s short-lived public life, the response to it has been fiercely polarized: Thomas J. Price, a Black artist who was recently commissioned to sculpt a monument to the Windrush Generation, accused Quinn, a white artist who came to prominence in the late ’80s as part of the YBA movement, of committing “an opportunistic stunt.” Meanwhile, the Booker Prize–winning author Bernardine Evaristo characterized the work as “a demonstrable commitment to the cause of Black Lives Matter” in The Guardian.

Next year, Quinn will unveil Our Blood, a public artwork, installed in front of the New York Public Library, that intends to draw attention to the international refugee crisis. The work will feature two red cubes created with ten thousand pounds of frozen blood, half from refugees, half from non-refugees.

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