In 1996 a group of "stealth art
ists" calling themselves "the NEA Army
" concocted a piece of conceptual art designed to revivify NEA
funding, or to at least inject some levity into the neverending NEA funding debate.
During a discussion between Seattle friends Dylan Clark, Tim Osumi, David Feit and Jason Hodin, the notion arose of submitting an art proposal to the NEA requesting the full annual NEA allotment OF $99.5 million for a single artwork involving the use of a B-2 Stealth Bomber. Then they did the math.
A single B-2 costs from $2.2 to $3 billion, approximately twenty times the total annual NEA funding. So, they compromised their vision, in the process coming up with a considerably more poignant mandate.
David Feit, the artistic director of the NEA Army described how "the beauty of this monument is it derives its power from being a physical manifestation of the NEA budget. A reduced budget would only mean a more concise piece and a more pointed message."
If the new proposal passed (which, thus far, it has failed to), with the entire NEA annual allotment they would purchase the Maximum Obtainable Fraction of a B-2 Stealth bomber: approximately one-twentieth of the entire bomber - maybe some wingtip and a piece of landing gear. Failing the purchase of actual plane parts with the money, they would construct a scale replica of the parts they could afford in papier maché and solid gold.
To the finished product would be affixed a simple plaque reading "priorities."
Feit thinks that this compromise down from the full plane would regardless work out just fine, explaining that "Just like anyone in their right mind buying a car wants to kick the tire to see if it's worth buying, the public could collectively kick the B-2 bomber's landing gear." In any event, given that the piece is intended to be hauled across the country by hand, "having something round and rollable would be a real asset."
However much of the aircraft the totality of the annual NEA money could buy would be carried by hand across the U.S.A. to its final destination on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Supposing the furore caused by the realization of this piece puts the final nail in the NEA's coffin?
"If that happened," Feit says, "we'd have the world's most stealthy monument for sure."