John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
This public-art installation wins viewers over with a cutesy scene before revealing a more serious message.
Little bunnies are cute; 23-foot-tall glowing ones a little less so. Nevertheless, San Francisco plans to roll out five of them—stay clear of Civic Center Plaza if you have irrational fears of being nibbled down to a nub by immense lagomorphs.
The installation, titled Intrude, is the work of Australian artist Amanda Parer, who’s deployed it in more than a dozen cities around the globe. The doughy forms will be available for poking ‘round the clock from April 4 to April 25. At night the bunnies will light up internally, and presumably they’ll be tied down lest they blow into the Bay and float away, a la that giant inflatable rubber duckie.
What’s the deal with these critters? Parer explains on her website:
Rabbits in artist Amanda Parer’s native Australia are an out of control pest, leaving a trail of ecological destruction wherever they go and defying attempts at eradication. First introduced by white settlers in 1788 they have caused a great imbalance to the [country’s] endemic species. The rabbit also is an animal of contradiction.
They represent the fairytale animals from our childhood—a furry innocence, frolicking through idyllic fields. Intrude deliberately evokes this cutesy image, and a strong visual humour, to lure you into the artwork only to reveal the more serious environmental messages in the work. They are huge, the size referencing “the elephant in the room,” the problem, like our environmental impact, big but easily ignored.