It’s been a few months since my last Street Art Dispatch, but longer stretches of time are occasionally a necessity when waiting for a piece of street art to catch one’s eye. I saw the one above—the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign subverted—from across a street in Brooklyn.
Initially, Jesus’s face caught my interest. Seeing him in street art is a rarity, unless the graffito is a Christian proselytizer. So I crossed the street to get a better look at the wheat-pasted poster.
Two printed Jesus faces, their long hair and trim beards, sad and sympathetic eyes, stare out onto the streets. The Jesi are outfitted with NYPD caps and are superimposed on an MTA map of New York City. Between the Jesi, a faded neon silhouette of the same Jesus image. On the MTA map, the words “If you see something, say something.”
It’s a clever little play on omniscience: the all-seeing, paternalistic eye of Big Brother; a direct line drawn from religion, particularly Christianity, to the state surveillance of the post-9/11 world.
The Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—elevated the concept of an omniscient, not to mention omnipresent and omnipotent deity, to the level of a disgusting art form. Their respective monotheistic god—the same one, essentially—is, like Big Brother, constantly watching, waiting for any hint of transgression to smite the evildoer. Unlike those dystopian science fiction novels, however, we still do fuck in private—or do we? Conservatives would certainly like to have a spyglass in the bedrooms of all who don’t use sex for reproductive purposes, but that’s beside the point here.
While MTA commuters aren’t smiting any evildoers, it’s interesting to see that we ourselves have replaced the omniscient gods, state surveillance cameras and officials. We have become Big Brother. The above street art captures this transformation completely.