No, this is not a post-Easter, sugar crash-induced hallucination: A warren of two-story, glowing bunnies is set to invade Civic Center next week. The mayor’s office and the Arts Commission announced the forthcoming arrival of Tasmanian artist Amanda Parer’s inflatable "public light installation" Intrude.
In the videos below you can watch Parer’s towering lagomorphs gently rise to their full stature, and then see time-lapse footage of adoring crowds milling about them (which can also sometimes look a bit like people are fleeing in their wake). Intrude displays in San Francisco from April 4 through April 25 before hopping off to its next destination in New York City.
Each of the five bunny behemoths is made from waterproof and fireproof nylon, with internal air jets that keep them buoyant and LED lights to make them visible clear down the block.
The fabric of the rabbit’s bodies has to be weatherproof to protect the sensitive equipment inside, and when she conceived the piece in 2014 Parer consulted various engineering professionals to make sure the proportions would keep them stable in all weather conditions.
Despite the cutesy appearance — Parer refers to the rabbit imagery as "fairy tale animals from our childhood" —Intrude is a comment on the damaging ecological effects of colonialism. The artist is originally from Australia, where rabbits are still an environmental scourge more than 200 years after being introduced to the southern continent by the British.
"Rabbits are out of control, leaving a trail of destruction wherever they go. They are the most destructive of all the feral animals we have introduced," she wrote on the installation’s crowd-funding page. Which makes the placement of Intrude in San Francisco potentially provocative.
When the time comes, gentrification critics may note some irony in the mayor’s office co-sponsoring an art piece about an aggressive invasive species and plopping it down a mere 830 feet from the Twitter building. If this has occurred to anyone at a city level, they seem to be keeping a straight face about it.
Not that Parer’s work necessarily has anything to do with the city’s political and economic conflict. She does, however, refer to the mammoth scale of the inflatable sculptures as a reference to the "elephant in the room." Make of that what you will.