A pair of German artists, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke, told the New York Times they placed a pair of white flags on the Brooklyn Bridge last month to celebrate “the beauty of public space.” The flags led to a police investigation and alarmed responses from residents and local politicians.
“This was not an anti-American statement,” Wermke told the Times in an interview published Tuesday.
Leinkauf said the pair were “surprised that it got the reaction it did” due to their “Berlin background.”
“We really didn’t intend to embarrass the police,” added Leinkauf.
Wermke and Leinkauf did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on Tuesday. Their website includes a review that describes their work as “largely illegal: through temporary actions and interventions they claim our public space.”
The flags were placed on the bridge in the early morning hours of July 22. Wermke and Leinkauf pointed out to the Times that date was the birthday of the late John Roebling, the German engineer who designed the bridge.
“We saw the bridge, which was designed by a German, trained in Berlin, who came to America because it was the place to fulfil his dreams, as the most beautiful expression of a great public space,” said Leinkauf. “That beauty was what we were trying to capture.”
A New York City Police Department spokesman previously said Commissioner Bill Bratton was “optimistic” they would arrest people who were involved in placing the flags on the bridge. The Times noted Wermke and Leinkauf spoke to the paper by phone from Germany and would not say whether other people helped them with their efforts. The NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider about Wermke and Leinkauf’s admission.
Update (5:23 p.m.): Wermke and Leinkauf sent an email to Business Insider that said, “due to a large number of recent press inquiries personal replies may take longer than usual.” They included informational materials about the white flags placed on the bridge that contained the following press release about the project:
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.