For years the powerful “Charging Bull” in New York City’s Bowling Green Park, next to Wall Street, has stood confidently and gained cult status. The bull was placed there as a temporary art installation that quickly became loved by Wall Street and is now a permanent fixture. Strong and aggressive, the bull symbolized the power of Wall Street’s financial institutions. It stood for optimism, for aggression and for power. But now, there is a new temporary art installation placed directly in the gaze of the famous bull. “Fearless Girl” faces opposite the bull, in defiance. She stands for feminism, possibility and strength according to her creator Kristen Visbal. Recently, the City has granted an extension to the installation and there are signs that it could also become permanent. This has sent shock waves through Wall Street and creator of Charging Bull, Arturo Di Modica, has raised a legal objection citing that Fearless Girl infringes on Charging Bull’s integrity.
The debate has divided the City, especially Wall Street. Some Wall Street brokers see Fearless Girl as an affront to Charging Bull. Others, especially women, like what it stands for. Since the “occupy” protests, there has been more scrutiny on Wall Street. Fearless Girl comes at a time when public opinion of Wall Street is at an all time low. On the other hand, since the election of Donald Trump, who is himself a symbol of New York decadence and elitism, there is a fondness for the Charging Bull among others. “You are either a Fearless Girl supporter or a Charging Bill devotee” remarks one city worker. It symbolizes men versus women in a male dominated industry. It’s about the top one per cent versus the 99 per cent. Above all it’s about the individual standing up to the powerful forces in life.
Change is always difficult to deal with, especially when the powerful few hold the keys. This is why Fearless Girl is causing such a stir on Wall Street recently. Wealthy brokers love Charging Bull and all it stands for. Aggression, dominance and of course a “bull” market. Perhaps there is room for both sculptures on Wall Street. Perhaps, indeed, there is room for both mindsets on Wall Street. A Charging Bull and a Fearless Girl working together, now that could really be an unstoppable force.