Life-size US predator drone to ‘hover’ over New York City street

Breanna Robinson
Saturday 17 April 2021 10:44
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(Photo courtesy of The High Line)

Those who visit New York’s High Line art exhibition next month may be surprised to see a 25 feet above-ground fiberglass sculpture shaped like a predator drone.

The sculpture, created by Sam Durant, a controversial anti-war multimedia artist based in Berlin, is titled ‘Untitled (drone)’ and has a wingspan of 48 feet, close to the size of an actual predator drone. It will also “gently rotate and act as a wind vane” as it points to whatever direction the wind is blowing.

This sculpture is Durant’s first large-scale project since the ‘Scaffold’ project in 2017. 

It was placed at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden of the Walker Art Center but was torn down by protestors.

The sculpture intended to represent the seven instances of capital punishment used by the United States military against Indigenous people. However, Dakota tribal leaders accused it of cultural appropriation.

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The latest project intends to remind the public that drones and surveillance are a pervasive presence in the daily lives across the world, according to Durant.

“One of the critical concepts in Untitled (drone) is the idea of making visible what’s normally invisible,” Durant said in a YouTube video for Friends of the High Line, a nonprofit that commissioned the piece.

“One of the things people will think about when they see the drone is the issue of surveillance that we have all around us. Not just from cameras mounted around the city and towns, but we carry surveillance technology with us everywhere in our smartphones,” he continued.

Sam Durant, the artist behind Untitled (drones) sculpture handling the prototype.

(Photo courtesy of Friends of the High Line/ YouTube)

The American military’s predator drone program is considered very controversial. It was a weapon most commonly used by the CIA and was used to conduct surveillance worldwide. Later on, the drones were used for airstrikes in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen, to name a few.

As discovered last year, the US Customs and Border Protection also deployed predator drones. Customarily used to track down and kill terrorists abroad, the drones were flown over Minneapolis to monitor protesters in the midst of George Floyd’s murder.

Floyd was an unarmed Black man that died at the hands of Minneapolis police. The white officer involved put his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes, as recorded on video. Riots and protests ensued after that.

‘Untitled (drone)’ will hover over the High Line located at Spur West 30th and 10th avenue in Chelsea, Midtown Manhattan, and can be seen until August 22.

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