A mural that went up at Dewey Square to promote the Institute of Contemporary Art’s latest installment has been reeling in racially-charged remarks from people who have viewed the public artwork.
The 70-foot-by-70-foot temporary painting, installed on the Air Intake Structure located between Summer and Congress Streets, where Occupy Boston used to be, was painted by the Brazilian brothers Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who go by the name “Os Gemeos,” which is Portuguese for “twins.”
A photo of the brightly-colored massive painting, which will stay up through November, was posted to Fox Boston’s Facebook page on Saturday. Within hours of the photo going up, with the tagline “This is a new mural on a Big Dig ventilation building. What does it look like to you?,” people began weighing in with their opinions
“[It looks like] the wife of a terrorist,” wrote one person on Fox’s page.
Others agreed, repeatedly writing “terrorist” underneath the snapshot of the detailed painting.
Suzanne Loheac, from Boston, said it looked like a “towel head.”
Other comments that were embedded in the nearly 400-response thread included phrases like “gay ninja,” “disgusting,” “Taliban fighter” and “a tribute to [President Barack] Obama’s birthday.”
A more amped-up commenter said it was “Finally a building worth crashing a plane into.”
Debbi Sheilds said the painting is “a slap in the face to all those who lost someone on 9/11 & another slap in the face to our military who is over there risking there lives.”
“I’m going down there tonight and painting an American flag over it,” said Jason Mendonca, before receiving 18 “likes” for his comment.
Many said they would like to see something else painted there instead, and asked why Mayor Thomas Menino allowed the mural to be completed.
Scott Englehardt called the artwork “an allah loving united states hating individual [sic].”
Tim Decker wrote:
Ridiculous absolutely ridiculous true the are many ethnics that make up America this is not representation if America or Boston. If you wanna do something safe put up the logos of our sport teams….. i hope the lady that through yellow paint of the statue in the common will do the same to this…. Absolutely ridiculous!!!!
A man by the name of K Allen Wood tried to quell the explosion of somewhat racially-charged remarks by saying the mural was “a surefire way to prove how racist and ignorant people are.”
“For examples, see all posts above this one,” he wrote on Fox’s Facebook page, underneath the Os Gemeos mural.
A second person backed Wood’s sentiment saying “It’s a cartoon people. Relax!!! Not everyone who wears a head scarf is a terrorist!”
The painting is called “The Giant of Boston,” and is the the first solo U.S. exhibition of the Brazilian artists.
A spokesperson from the ICA said the style is typical of the brothers’ artwork and is meant to depict “fantastical, dream-like landscapes of joy and color.”
“These yellow-colored characters are an iconic and recurrent feature in Os Gemeos’s work, and are depicted in a wide variety of situations,” said Kelly Gifford. “The figures are frequently shown wearing whimsical hats, colorful hoods or scarves—another hallmark feature of the artists’ work.”
In an email to BostInno, Gifford said:
Both the surrounding skyscrapers and the architecture of the Intake Structure itself influenced the subject matter of the mural: a giant, yellow-colored character in brightly mismatched clothes who appears to have squeezed himself in between the towering buildings that surround him.
Gifford said the brothers’ intention was to bring “color and energy to the streets of Boston” while inspiring curiosity and imagination for the city’s residents.
“Together, the Greenway mural and ICA exhibition offer a unique opportunity to fully experience the range and diversity of Os Gemeos’s artistic practice—from painting and sculptural works in the museum galleries to dynamic, large-scale murals on the city streets,” she said in a statement.
The Os Gemeos also painted a portrait on the Revere Hotel, on the Stuart Street exterior, to exemplify “the brand’s commitment to the arts and its trailblazing efforts to cultivate unique and original experiences for its guests.”
That portrait was of two people spray-painting the building with the brothers’ tag name.
What do you think of the artwork?