A Van, a Vamp, and Two Spectacles in the Name of Occupy Wall Street

IMG_1814Jared Malsin The Illuminator

Maybe you saw the messages beamed, Bat-Signal-like, on the wall of Cooper Union’s new academic building on Saturday? Actually, it was just one of two spectacles related to Occupy Wall Street in the East Village that night.

“It is the beginning of the beginning. Another world is possible,” read the messages. The final one beamed on the steel facade of 41 Cooper Square was the original Occupy slogan: “99%.”

This was the maiden voyage of The Illuminator, a white cargo van modified by a group of Brooklyn-based guerilla artists. A 12,000-lumen projector emerged from its roof while clanging post-rock blared from a set of mounted loudspeakers. Also attached to the van was a rack of books available for public perusal, a mobile version of Occupy Wall Street’s “People’s Library.”

IMG_1802Jared Malsin Kanene Holder as Amy Jay

One of the organizers of the project, Mark Read, a 45-year-old Brooklyn resident who will teach “Shifting Focus II: Video Production and Community Activism” at N.Y.U. Gallatin next semester, said the van is intended to create “a celebratory spectacle, but also with political content. And then the library is there to sort of draw people in and create a kind of discursive space and people can begin to have a conversation.”

Earlier on Saturday, 32-year-old performance artist Kanene Holder, of Harlem, appeared at the Astor Place cube, in a pink dress and blonde wig, in character as Amy Jay. Her tagline: “American Justice is legally blonde and legally blind.”

Holding a pair of enormous dice, Ms. Holder explained that her performance contained the message that “true justice, love, peace, shouldn’t be a chance. It shouldn’t be that some people are lucky enough to get that. That should be for everyone. Those are human rights.”