Kevin Hart is not hosting the Oscars this year, but stars may encounter his likeness around the corner from Los Angeles’s Dolby Theater, where the awards kick off this Sunday. The street artist known as Plastic Jesus has installed a life-size—and quite unsettling—golden statue of the divisive comedian just in time for the Academy Awards.
Hart was slated to host the 91st Oscars, but stepped down after a series of insensitive, homophobic tweets he had made years ago resurfaced, went viral, and incited a flurry of backlash. Plastic Jesus installed the statue—which stands at exactly 5-foot-4 inches tall, like Hart himself—on La Brea Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard Thursday morning. It shows the actor waving a rainbow flag and standing on a platform that reads, “Hollow Apology.”
“Sadly, this year with the current feeling and rhetoric within the US, it seems that it’s now acceptable again to hate someone because of their sexual orientation,” Plastic Jesus tells artnet News. “We all know many people in Hollywood and the entertainment industry who are LGBTQ, and we should be celebrating diversity, not attacking it like it’s the 1970s again.”
Made of acrylic resin, spray-painted gold and clad in a matching gold suit, the Hart statue is Plastic Jesus’s sixth adaptation of his Oscar installation stunt. The sculpture was a collaboration with the Las Vegas-based artist Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, who created the figure’s somewhat frightening head and hands. (It’s not the kind of sculpture you’d want to be alone with in a dark and enclosed space, we’ll say that.)
Plastic Jesus is known for skewering Hollywood celebrity, and has a knack for choosing hot-button subjects at carefully calibrated moments when he’s certain they will make headlines. “With Hollywood being the center of media attention, that gives me a certain amount of leverage and fuel,” he told artnet News.
Some of the artist’s past Oscar pieces include a replica of Harvey Weinstein lounging in a robe on a couch (Harvey Weinstein Casting Couch, 2018), an Oscar snorting lines of cocaine (Hollywood’s Best Party, 2015), and a statue of Kanye West posed as Jesus Christ (False Idol). He is also known for defacing President Donald Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
After the initial backlash against Hart’s statements in early December, the actor refused to issue an apology. It wasn’t until a few days later that he finally expressed his regrets. (“Once again, Kevin Hart apologizes for his remarks that hurt members of the LGBTQ community. I apologize,” he said on the SiriusXM’s “Straight from The Hart” radio show. He added: “But in the fight for equality, that means that there has to be an acceptance for change. If you don’t want to accept people for their change, then where are you trying to get to the equal part? Where does the equality part come in?”)
Plastic Jesus, for one, wasn’t impressed. “His half-hearted apology, or non-apology, was pretty lame really,” said Plastic Jesus. “So I decided to call the new piece Hollow Apology.”
For the first time in nearly three decades, the Academy Awards will not have a host.
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