The “Burning Wall Street” exhibit goes up in flames

Edie Pistolesi’s exhibit “Burning Wall Street” burns to the ground in the outdoor sculpture area of the art department. Pistolesi organized and worked on the project for more than a year with her students. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Michael Battle, 34, an art education major writes out in chalk the word “greed” for the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit on Oct. 13. Edie Pistolesi the organizer of the exhibition said “As people walk down the side walk they will see the word greed repeated and they will see the specific crimes of the banks.” Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
For the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit, cellophane full life figures were placed outside the art galleries in the art department to represent the 47% who are not heard in the political arena. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Kirsti Jackson, 23, liberal studies major, collects the occupier models, so that the Wall Street builds could be moved to the sculpture area in the art department to be burned. Edie Pistolesi, the organizer of “Burning Wall Street”, said “it (Burning Wall Street) symbolizes our expression of frustration at a government that doesn’t seem to care about the 99% anymore and its just that powerful expression that I want to unify everyone.” Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
CSUN students and attendees “save the occupiers” before they moved the Wall Street builds to the sculpture area in the art department to be burned. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
CSUN students and attendees help move the “Burning Wall Street” models to the outdoor sculpture area of the art department on Oct. 13. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Artist, Alex Schaefer, sprinkles a combination of different shredded financial newspapers and magazines onto the “Burning Wall Street” exhibition. “The special secret ingredient was little a packet of federal reserve notes that I got from a tour that I took of the federal reserve bank in Los Angeles” he said. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Ken Sakatani, chair of the Art Department, sets the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit on fire on Oct. 13. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Edie Pistolesi’s exhibit “Burning Wall Street” burns to the ground in the outdoor sculpture area of the art department. Pistolesi organized and worked on the project for more than a year with her students. After the burning, Pistolesi said, “It was great, it was perfect, it was incredible, it was everything that I imagined it to be especially when it started falling over. The flames got really high, it was the best.” Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Ken Sakatani, Chair of the Art Department, puts out the flames from the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit on Oct. 13. “Artists have always been the ones who raise the questions and also ask questions and raise through their art certain issues that maybe need to be looked at” said Sakatani. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor

The “Burning Wall Street” installation, a miniaturized “Occupy Wall Street” made of matchstick banks, twist-ties and candy wrappers, went up in flames at its closing ceremony Saturday.

Edie Pistolesi, art education professor at CSUN, organized “Burning Wall Street” and worked on the project for more than a year with her students.

“We had to make our statement,” Pistolesi said about burning the exhibit. “The idea of burning something, an effigy, is very powerful, and burning this will be cathartic.”

This exhibit at the CSUN Art Gallery was dedicated to the “99 percent” and involved 200 students in its creation. Artist Alex Schaefer’s paintings of burning banks inspired the project.

Schaefer said he loved the fact that Pistolesi was able to see his art on the Internet and get him involved.

“I’m honored to be a part of this,” Schaefer said. “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Students in Pistolesi’s art classes decorated the sidewalk with descriptions of bank crimes with chalk. Phrases like “bid rigging,” “drug money laundering,” and “loan application fraud” lined the pathway where people carried the display to the burn site.

The entire installation was sprinkled with a souvenir bag of shredded money from the Federal Reserve and burned in less than five minutes.

Jennifer Perlin, a junior liberal studies major and art minor, watched the art she helped construct burn to the ground.

“It’s kind of hard to see something we have worked for go down in flames, but the symbolism was awesome,” said Perlin, 20.

Pistolesi said she made her students research the Occupy Wall Street movement and the “99 percent” before they participated in the exhibit’s construction.

“They had to understand it before doing it,” Pistolesi said.

If students disagreed or did not want to participate in the project, they had the option to complete a different assignment.

Valerie Jauregui, junior liberal studies major, said she enjoyed her art class uniting over such a serious issue.

“I am going to be a teacher, and I don’t want a pink slip just because our banks are greedy,” said Jauregui, 20.

Pistolesi said she and her students added more “occupier” figurines to the display after 20,000 California teachers were laid off earlier this year.

Tania Cora, senior art education major, is a student of Pistolesi’s who helped add more “occupiers” into the display.

“I know so many people who can’t get a job even with a master’s degree,” said Cora, 24. “We’re here to inform people on what’s going on in the government.”

Dr. Ken Sakatani, chair of CSUN’s art department, said he saw “Burning Wall Street” as a “valuable, collaborative, yearlong educational project.”

“This is something that engages students in political and social issues,” Sakatani said. “For students to question that through art is a great thing.”

Sakatani said the department went through all the levels of safety and risk approval for the burning, which took place in the outdoor sculpture area of the art department.


  • Political ideologies aside (please!), this was the best photo spread of the semester….. kudos to Loren Townsley for capturing the overall sense of the event, along with the details that gave the viewer insights into what the art project (art project!) was all about.

  • Political ideologies aside (please!), this was the best photo spread of the semester….. kudos to Loren Townsley for capturing the overall sense of the event, along with the details that gave the viewer insights into what the art project (art project!) was all about.

  • vcarg005

    I can tell you three times that Alex nailed it or you can re-read it.  

    • VladLenin

      Congressional Hearing – Banking Subcommittee – MUST WATCH

    • VladLenin

      Barney Frank – 2005 Speech in Congress. “There is no risk of a Bubble in Housing”

      BTW, Barney Frank had a gay love relationship with the Senior Vice President of Freddie Mac, at the time that he made this speech.

  • vcarg005

    Alex nailed it.

    • VladLenin

      Congressional Hearing – Banking Subcommittee – MUST WATCH

  • vcarg005

    Alex nailed it.  

  • vcarg005

     Alex nailed it.  

  • Criminal activity by Banks is directly the cause of rioting in the
    streets of Spain. Pick any “Too Big To Fail” bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of
    America, Chase, BNP, HSBC, DeutcheBank, ad nauseum, and they were
    involved in every aspect of the fraud from start to finish. What were
    the stages of the fraud?

    1) Predatory lending. Enticing and
    misinforming people to get them into a debt situation that is
    unsustainable given their income and a realistic job outlook.

    2) Loan Application Fraud. Banks did not do the work to detect and
    prevent fraudulent loan applications because they didn’t care if the
    borrower could pay in the long term, they only wanted their name on the
    paperwork. Banks also steered borrowers into higher-cost subprime loans.

    3) Mortgage backed securities Fraud. Once the Banks had the signature
    on the home loan, many of which they knew were unsafe, they divided them
    up, mixed them all around and, like a sausage factory, started tying
    them together and selling them as “mortgage-backed securities” all over
    the world. But imagine a batch of sausage that is 2/3 meat and 1/3
    shit, no matter how much you mix it, it is still rotten.

    In order for the Banks to sell these toxic securities they needed to
    make them look good and that is where Ratings Agencies joined the Fraud.
    Just as the Banks didn’t do the work to ensure the loans they created,
    the ratings agencies didn’t either, rubber stamping everything AAA, top
    quality, near risk-free investments and they were sold en masse to
    major institutional investments and funds.

    4) Appraisal Fraud.
    All the while this is happening on the global level, on the everyday
    level a bubble is created in housing prices through appraisal fraud,
    where the Bank and the appraiser are both in on the scam, and
    dishonestly overstate the value of a property. The Banks make more
    money the bigger the loan so they have no incentive to question if the
    prices reached at the peak of the bubble were realistic. And again they
    don’t care about the borrower because they will re-package, securitize
    and sell that mortgage before the ink is dry so to them it’s no longer
    their responsibility.

    5) Foreclosure Fraud. To complete the
    cycle, now Banks are once again not doing their job regarding the
    paperwork and procedures involved in a foreclosure, are unwilling to
    renegotiate with borrowers, do not have clear title to the property
    because they don’t have or don’t know who really owns the property, but
    they “robo-sign” and fast-track the foreclosure paperwork and try to
    steamroll the homeowner, who is now unable to make their payments after
    their interest rate adjusted and their home is worth half what they had
    to borrow to buy it.

    Just as the individual homeowner is
    increasingly going bankrupt because of this criminal fraud bubble, so
    are entire cities and counties and nations. Here in Los Angeles, the
    city leaders were pulled into the fraud and enticed to bet something
    like $1 Billion of the city pension fund in these so called AAA secure
    investments mortgage backed securities and lost it all. So they pass
    the loss onto the people in the form of tickets, fines, cuts in
    services, “austerity”. The Banks break the Law and profit from the
    fraud immediately, but as the crime unwinds and the damage becomes
    evident, the People have to suffer to pay for the Banks’ illegal
    business practices.

    When people ask me “What can we do? What’s
    the solution?” all I say now is, “A major step in improving the entire
    world, frankly, would be if our Justice system simply prosecuted crime
    for what it is and stopped letting criminals get away with it!” The
    greatest threat to the world is that there is rampant criminality in the
    entire Financial Sector: fraud, theft, collusion, racketeering,
    bribery, money laundering, ad nauseum, but our Politicians do nothing to
    stop it. Regulatory Agencies do not regulate. The Justice System does
    not seek justice. At this very moment and for years, blatant and
    prosecutable fraud has been happening in front of our eyes, directly
    resulting is desperate situations like Spain and Greece, economic crimes
    against humanity, and nothing is done to stop it. It’s the giant
    stinking pile of shit in the middle of the room and no one even mentions
    it. Banks around the world stole billion, trillions, in the boom and
    bust of the bubble, but all our legal system can manage is arbitration
    and settlements, a slap on the wrist and a microscopic penalty, but no
    admission of wrongdoing and nothing done to ensure they don’t commit the
    crime again.

    This has to end. The only Nation that has so far
    stood up to this fraud, called it what it is: crime, refused to pay for
    it, cast out the leaders who did nothing to stop it, and have
    international arrest warrants out for the criminal Icelandic Bank CEO’s
    who fled the country and are now in hiding. They were told by the EU
    that they MUST bail out their banks to save their economy. They MUST
    take a loan and keep the fraud going. But they didn’t. They said screw
    you, the Banks are liars and cheats and criminals and you can shove
    your bailout up your ass. Iceland was told they were facing an economic
    nightmare if they didn’t do as the EU wanted, but the EU was wrong.
    Iceland’s economy is now growing while the rest of Europe is shriveling
    up. I wish Spain could do this, or Greece. I wish another big EU
    economy would follow Iceland’s lead, stand up to these crooks, and stop
    participating and prolonging the fraud.

    Crime must be punished. Justice must be served.

    • VladLenin

      Banking Subcommittee Hearings 2004 – MUST WATCH.

      • VladLenin

        Barney Frank – 2005 Speech in Congress. “There is no risk of a Bubble in Housing”

        BTW, Barney Frank had a gay love relationship with the Senior Vice President of Freddie Mac, at the time that he made this speech.

    • VladLenin


      You’ve raised some good issues. Some are valid. Did you see my post above regarding Prosecutions. Illegal activity occured. The Obama Administration has prosecuted 0 Bankers. On this, you have a legitimate complaint.

      Where you’re off-based is two points.

      1)In the 1970’s and again during the Clinton Adminstration, Community Activists attacked banks for “REDLINING” practices.(alleged Discriminatory lending practices, that denied loans to Low-Income neighborhoods) – Banks, through Actuary tables determined that Low-Income, predominently Minority borrowers posed a bad risk. The Community Reinvestment Act was signed that required that Banks expand their loan portfolio’s into these communities. 

      The VERY SAME policies that are being imposed on Student Loans. Almost half of students default on Student Loans. Is it the Banks fault? The Students? What about the Liberal Socio/Poliltical pressure that bastardizes “the market” to advance SOCIAL JUSTICE.

      There is no other way, except DEFAULT that the Student Loan house-of cards(matchsticks, if you prefer) will go. 

      You, and your LIberal Professors will blame the Banks. The Republicans.

      What is your Major? How much Student Debt do you have?

      You will graduate (if your the lucky 50%) into a depressed job market, with more debt than you will be able to pay off. You will NOT take responsibility, but will blame the Banks, the School, The next Administration.

      2)Illegal / Immoral Activity occured. This is Legit. White/Black/Brown crime occurs every day. You(we) don’t blame White/Black/Brown society. This is called racism.

      Prosecute Illegal Activity. This is the cornerstone of the “free enterprise” system.  A fair exchange of Goods & Services.

      The Occu-tard movement is attacking the market system. This is invalid. IF you think you’ll have a more fair opportunity with a collapsed Economic System, and Rule of Law, you are naive.

      Occu-tard protestors envision an Egalitarian Utopianism. Your “organizers” in South Chicago, see an abandonment of the restraints on their authority and Total control over the levers of commerce.

      Vlad Lenin(namesake), Stalin & Mao tried this, followed by the death of 100 million people from starvation and re-education.      
      Crime must be punished. Justice must be served. On this we agree, but prosecute the criminals, not the system.

      Peace out!


  • David the small-L libertarian

    For their next act may I suggest burning a model of the White House and Capitol, and in particular, Bill Clinton and Rep. Barney Frank in effigy.  The policies they enacted requiring banks to make loans to unqualified borrowers are largely responsible for the housing meltdown.

    • VladLenin

      Interestingly enough, the same policies that bankrupted Housing, is being perpetrated on Student Loans.

      The Government requires that “everyone” be extended the opportunity to be given a school loan, regardless of their grades, their major, or their ability to pay back. (SUBPRIME)

      Artificially suppressed rates, creates a Hyperinflation in Tuition costs, making it cost more, not less expensive to acquire that same product that was 25-50% cheaper just a handful of years ago.

      Institutions(colleges) will push more “unqualified” kids through the system to feed THEIR appetites.

      The “marketplace” (Industry) will come to devalue the Students being milled through the system, undermining the willingness to pay the scratch necessary for the students to pay off their loans.


      Peace Out!



    • Michelangelo_L

      You’re thinking too small! A model of the entirety of DC needs to be burned with Godzilla rampaging through the city. 

  • VladLenin

    In the latest Batman movie, Cat Woman perceives herself a 99%er, and believes that “raging against the machine” will bring about “fairness” and “equality.”

    She is right. By tearing down society(Capitalism, the Rule of Law), everyone is equal in squalor. And, interestingly enough, society forward is ruled by a cabal of thugs, who have the might to destroy and control.

    You cannot build up a poor man, by tearing down a rich man’s house.

    Question: Would you prefer a more fair distribution of income, if it meant a significant reduction in your standard of living?

    • Brendan Garcia

      All these comments are… well just plain stupid, why argue with learned people who are trying to prevent a tiny minority from having everything?
      It constantly suprises me how many people have bought into this fallacy, this dream that, ‘you can make it’, and that rich people deserve it, so poor people deserve it.
      I can understand it with the mega-wealthy, but im sure all the people leaving these comments are not.  Stop believing yourself, you’re wrong, and you can change, stop being lazy!
      And as far as the last question, how much lower standard of living can we have?
      can we take alot of the money from the less than 1% (who will fight to the death for every penny of their billions, that they do not deserve, although they will boast otherwise), and THEN lower all our standard of living a little bit more?

      • VladLenin

        Learned people? All I see is sheep.

        We could have a significantly worse standard of living. I find it amusing to have spoiled young adults think that they’ve got it so hard.

        Brendan – Do you have a car? Cell Phone? Data plan? Air conditioning? Do you, or could you eat 3 meals per day?

        These benefits are brought to you as a result of your living in a (mostly) free enterprise economy. Empowering the state to redistribute wealth will enrich special interest but will punish bothe the rich and the poor.

        Explain the model whereby you can take from the rich, where the rich don’t discontinue their production and you can continue to drink from the trough, and think that you continue to get what you got?

        Think about it.


  • VladLenin

    “Useful Idiots”

    The Occu-tard movement has served no redeemable function.

    You bemoan the greedy banks, yet haven’t pressured the Justice system to prosecute alleged criminal bankers. Here’s the breakdown or Financial prosecutions.

    Bush 1,300+
    Clinton 1,000+
    Obama 0 – Nada, Goose-egg, Zilch, Zippo, Sqadusch, None, Zero

    Let me see if I understand your logic. You denounce the Banker Bailouts, but support Teacher Bailouts? As I understand, you support the Bailout of Student Loan debt, as well. How is “this” not greedy?

    While Occu-tard protestors envision an “Egalitarian Utopia”, the Occu-tard organizers(in South Chicago) envision complete Totalitarian control.

    Burning Wall Street, presumably a metaphor for Capitalism, WILL result in diminished standard of living, controlled not by a collective development and exchange of free-range food, and organic vegetables, but by a powerful Central Committee, who will bask in their “status”, while the people DIE from starvation.

    This movie has played out before. Vlad Lenin called his disciples “Useful Idiots”