A pair of German artists tells the NY Times that they are responsible for planting two white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge, and they've provided compelling video evidence to support their claim. Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke have come forward to explain that the incident had nothing to do with terrorism, and was instead a nod to John Roebling, the German-born engineer who designed the bridge.
The stunt, which has perplexed the city and embarrassed the NYPD, coincided with the anniversary of Roebling's death on July 22nd, 1869. While others have jokingly claimed to be responsible for the flags' appearance, Leinkauf and Wermke appear to be very credible. In addition to video taken from atop one of the bridge towers which shows a white flag, the artists told the Times that the flags were handmade, which jibes with what the NYPD has said.
The Berlin-based duo has claimed responsibility for another stunt on the bridge in the past, when they say they fastened some balloons to the cables. They have also created other site-specific works in other cities around the world, but those works were largely unnoticed at the time, and only later received attention from the art world.
"This was not an anti-American statement," the two men insist. "From our Berlin background, we were a little surprised that it got the reaction it did. We really didn’t intend to embarrass the police. We saw the bridge, which was designed by a German, trained in Berlin, who came to America because it was the place to fulfill his dreams, as the most beautiful expression of a great public space. That beauty was what we were trying to capture."
Here's more on their various public space projects, which have often involved bridges and heights. And here's a video profile on their work:
Leinkauf and Wermke insist that "when they removed those flags, they ceremonially folded them 'following the United States flag code.' " They have also promised to return the original flags to the U.S., and said they always intended to come forward and take responsibility. “We always face the consequences,” Leinkauf told the Times. “This is part of the work, to have an open discussion. We just needed a little time to decide how to respond to the reaction.”