ARLINGTON - The man who sent city and State Police rushing to defuse what they believed were explosive devices around the Boston region last week and who was arrested and charged with placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct, said he was only creating art.
Artist Peter Berdovsky said in a telephone interview prior to his arrest that he was "a little kind of freaked out" by the police response to the small, lighted cartoon figures he installed on city bridges and buildings. He confirmed he was hired by Interference Inc., a New York City advertising agency that specializes in nontraditional marketing.
"I find it kind of ridiculous that they're making these statements on TV that we must not be safe from terrorism, because they were up for three weeks and no one noticed," he told the Globe. "It's pretty commonsensical to look at them and say this is a piece of art and installation."
Police did not agree. Berdovsky, 27, was led out of a house in Arlington at about 8:20 p.m. by a group of law enforcement officers. A slight man with long brown dreadlocks and a goatee, he walked to a sport utility vehicle with his hands in his pockets. He did not speak to reporters.
Michael L. Rich, Berdovsky's lawyer, said his client emigrated from Belarus in 1996 as an exchange student and sought political asylum because he faced persecution for opposing the dictatorship. Berdovsky lived with Rich and his family for almost nine years until recently, when he moved out of their Arlington house to a loft in the Boston area. Berdovsky was questioned by police in Rich's sitting room.
"He's very surprised that anything came of it," Rich said. "He is sorry and concerned and fully cooperative."
Berdovsky has a mother living in Belarus and a brother in Poland. His father died.
Berdovsky recently obtained his green card and is worried that the arrest will result in his deportation, said Rich, who described Berdovsky as gentle and soft-spoken. He attended Arlington High School and was doing commercial work to help become self-sufficient as an artist, Rich said.
On his website, Berdovsky has pictures of a small group installing the figures - little square-shaped men frowning and making an obscene gesture - on the exterior wall of a hospital, on the awning of a Cambridge bar, at an Urban Outfitters store, and a bridge.
On another site, he describes himself as adroit at painting, animation, video and sound design, sculpting and installation art.
Berdovsky's lengthy resume boasts a 2005 bachelor's degree completed "with distinction" at the Massachusetts College of Art, his second-place finish at the college's 2004 All School Show, and a merit scholarship he received from MassArt in 2000. On his website, he also described himself as a music producer and video music producer.
On his website, he lists several authors who have inspired him, including Douglas Adams and Leo Tolstoy, and included passages that moved him. One sentence from Tolstoy's "Confession" was underlined: "It became clear to me that art is an ornamentation of life, something that lures us into life. But life had lost its charm for me so how was I to charm others?"
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