Of the 150 statues of humans around New York City, 145 are tributes to men, including 10 of generals, five of Christopher Columbus, and another five of George Washington.
How many honor women throughout history? Just five.
To raise awareness of the disparity and to promote Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu and Courageous—CNN’s branded content studio—are fixing the gap. At least for one day.
On Friday in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, Courageous and Hulu will install 140 mirrored statues to close the gap and show how much women have been ignored for the city’s historic landmarks. The project, which will be on display from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the park’s Flatiron Plaza, will be nearly invisible from farther away. However, anyone who walks closer will see the structures—and see themselves in them.
“We thought that it was really unfortunate and a stat that should be brought to light, given history and the countless ways that women have helped shape our country and fought for equality,” said Michal Shapira, svp of news content partnerships and ad sales for Ignite at WarnerMedia.
Rather than make each statue about a particular person, all will be purposely unidentifiable. Instead, mirrored material lets those who look at the statues see themselves, to symbolize the potential they have to shape history.
The statues, which will be installed early Friday morning, will be arranged in a semicircle with five rows. To promote The Handmaid’s Tale, women dressed in the now-iconic costumes will be stationed at two statues of women in Manhattan. Some will be passing out info by a statue of the writer Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park, while others will be at 39th Street and Broadway by the statue of Golda Meir, Israel’s only female prime minister.
“From afar, it’s going to represent how fleeting the representation of women can be,” Shapira said. “But up close it’ll give people a chance to see themselves … It’ll remind us that we might not be able to shape the past, but we can certainly shape the future.”
Since The Handmaid’s Tale debuted in 2017, many have pointed out the parallels between the show’s oppression of women and the real-life debates about women’s rights in the U.S. The show’s executive producer Warren Littlefield told Adweek this week that changes to abortion laws in Alabama and Georgia make it seems like the realities of the world are increasingly like those in the show’s fictional world of Gilead.
Asked if the art installation is also a commentary on how often women are overshadowed by men in all parts of life, Shapira said the show itself has a “strong message behind it.” She said promoting the show requires the need “to understand the culture that we live in.”
“I feel like it really comes from a place of trying to be honest and trying to accomplish the same objectives that the show is trying to accomplish,” she said. “And to have a message and stand for something to find those stories that audiences want to hear.”