Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

A Million Stories

Ruffled Feathers

Who would've thought a phrase spelled out in white balloons could spook a major sports franchise? Not artist Sarah Peoples, who requested and, amazingly, got permission to create a temporary art installation in Lincoln Financial Field last week. The concept: Write out "Bread & Circuses" using 2,800 balloons.

But after much planning and a Kickstarter campaign raising nearly $3,000 for supplies and helpers — in fact, just six days before the artwork was to go up — the perhaps inevitable happened.

"Three people were on the conference call," Peoples explains in an email: representatives from the Linc, the Eagles and their lawyers. "I specifically remember them reading me the definition of 'Bread & Circuses' from Wikipedia." (It's "a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement," the entry begins.) The upshot: no balloons.

The oddest part: When she first got the go-ahead, no one asked her the specifics of the piece.

Still, Peoples says she's not angry at the team. "I am very familiar with the rights to private property," she writes on her Kickstarter page. The work wasn't directed at the team or the NFL. It was an exploration of the role of the spectator. (Eagles' media relations didn't respond to an email by press time.)

She's hoping to find another venue and possibly add "more spectacle, more entertainment, more circus." In any case, Peoples draws a heartening conclusion: "Apparently, art is so powerful that an organization as mighty as the Philadelphia Eagles wanted no part of this project."