The Physical Limitations of Life in the Mind of Someone Looking


It looks like an art installation. 1,600 papier mâché pandas milling about at the foot of Eiffel Tower. Some staring up at the tower, curious. Others with an eye out for a bit of bamboo. Herded in the long Autumn sunshine. It has the uniformity of pop art. Reminiscent of Antony Gormley’s ‘Field’.

It should be art, but it isn’t. Or is it?

It first appears that there are loads of them. Black and white with pot bellies. Until you realize that what you see in one glance represents the entire population of giant pandas living wild in the world. It’s as if the village where I live were it for the human species (a worrying thought). The rest of the earth empty.

The display is a publicity campaign by the French wing of the World Wide Fund For Nature. They set up the pandas with each appearing in Paris in place of a living panda from the wild. It’s impressive. Both aesthetically and as a message. Consequently as art it succeeds for me where ‘My Bed’ by Tracey Emin and avant garde charlatan Damien Hirst’s preserved Tiger Shark failed dismally.

I recently adopted a tiger. Malu Pothi. I’m not sure how far my £3 a month goes towards Malu’s upkeep, but I’ll give it a go. Looking at that dwindling mob in Paris, I think I need to help out a panda as well.


One comment

  1. deleted user · October 23, 2008

    To quote William Morris,

    “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

    I found this to be particularly striking, since as you say, the piece not only conveys a powerful message but is also visually arresting.


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