October 14, 2013 by Beatrice Marovich
Apparently this truck is making the rounds in Brooklyn & Manhattan over the next couple of weeks. The guy who’s driving it calls himself “Joe the Farmer” but the installation is being attributed to Banksy (apparently it has his 1-800 number on it). Watch the video. Seriously. The stuffed animals are animatronic and make honking and squealing sounds, like someone’s squeezing their little stuffed bellies. There are animals with black eyes. And, as you’ll see, it’s disturbing enough to make babies cry.
As a spectacle, I think it’s pretty brilliant. But there’s also something comical about these stuffed animal bug-eyes, almost like a skit from Sesame Street. And, as hypothetically cute as they may be, and as precious as instantiations of them may become to individual children, they’re not objects that tend to generate a lot of emotional sympathy or feelings of care. I feel OK making the claim that most stuffed animals generate a pretty flat affect. With that in mind, if you were to tell me that this performance was intended as a mockery of animal activism that uses images of suffering animals to generate a reaction from its audience, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised.