A fiberglass butterfly named “Dandara” spread its wings for the first time in Tribeca Park on Monday — an unveiling met with applause from members of the trans and gender-nonconforming community for whom the sculpture is dedicated.
Created by Brazilian artist Rubem Robierb, the 10-foot tall, 13-foot wide installation symbolizes transformation and rebirth. The artist, who is known for his Instagram-friendly pop art, named the piece after Dandara dos Santos, a trans woman whose 2017 murder made global headlines and increased calls for LGBTQ+ protections in Brazil.
“In tribute to the strength and bravery of the trans [and] GNC community, ‘Dandara’ has an important message and meaning,” Robierb said at the unveiling. “…Only courage and determination can free us to create and reinvent ourselves.”
The installation is part of the artist’s “Dream Machine,” an ongoing series in which Robierb names a work after a person who died fighting for their dreams or the dreams of others.
“Dandara” is slated to stay at the downtown park until May 2020, at the request of the New York City Parks Department. Robierb said he hopes the opalescent sculpture reminds passersby of new beginnings.
“Place yourself between its wings, close your eyes and make a wish,” Robierb said. “See yourself travel to the place where your dreams will come true. This is a monument for the dreamers, for we are the ones who live and die making the impossible happen.”
Miss Peppermint, an influencer and trans advocate perhaps best known for her role in “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” also spoke at the unveiling and said the sculpture served as a powerful reminder to commemorate trans lives.
“It’s important to go back and redeem the stories of people like Dandara dos Santos,” she said. “To have an opportunity to have her name and her essence carried on is such a beautiful and important thing.”
The installation and its dedication plaque, she added, serves as a touchstone for the trans community and also raises awareness about the necessity of LGBTQ+ protections.
“There was not a lot of visibility or role models for people like me when I was growing up back in the day” she said. “…This is the beginning for other queer people — trans people, trans young girls and gender non-conforming people — to have a space where they can come and feel safe and know that their dreams can be realized.”
See “Dandara” at Tribeca Park through May 2020.