ST. GEORGE — An art show asking the question "can love go viral?" will raise money for Ramsey Orta, who supporters say has been harassed by the NYPD since shooting a video of Eric Garner's arrest and death in 2014 that quickly went viral and led to the arresting officer facing criminal charges.
The show "Viral," at Deep Tanks Studio in St. George, will feature about 20 artists from across the world — including several from Staten Island — showing pieces centered around the theme of going viral on the Internet and positivity, said Natalia Conrazon, founder of the ISLA collective and curator of the show.
"I really wanted to do this art show because of everything I saw going on with Ramsey [Orta]," said Conrazon, who grew up on Staten Island but recently moved to Oakland. "When Ramsey’s video went viral, what did that mean for the rest of his life? What is this sickness that we don't look at each other as human beings?"
Aside from the art, the event will also feature poetry readings, musical performances and demonstrations from members of WeCopWatch on how to film abusive authorities, Conrazon said.
Proceeds from the art sold at Sunday's show will be donated to a crowdfunding campaign set up to raise money for Orta, who has been arrested twice since he shot the video.
The campaign has already raised nearly $2,500 of its $5,000 goal.
"I just felt like this is something I could do to help what Ramsey's going through," Conrazon said. "It's really unfair what he's going through."
Orta shot footage of Garner, 43, being arrested by NYPD officers on a Staten Island street for allegedly selling cigarettes. The video shows NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Garner in an apparent chokehold and wrestling him to the ground while the father of six pleaded "I can't breathe" numerous times.
Orta, who later won a New York Press Club award for his footage, was arrested twice following the video's release — on gun and drug charges. He told reporters that police have been following him since the video came out.
Conrazon said the media firestorm that propelled the video of Garner's to go viral sparked her to create a show about how "virality" could spread love instead of anger.
"Where is this sickness coming from, how can we spread love and what would that look like?" she said. "I hope that some young person from Staten Island will come to this show and be inspired."
The free art show "Viral" will take place on Sunday, Jan. 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Deep Tanks Studio, 150 Bay St.