On Friday 28 July, from 12- 2 pm, 50 human rabbits will invade downtown Melbourne. Fifty people, women and men, will walk the streets and laneways of the city scattered or in herd, wearing big rabbit cardboard-heads on their shoulders. They will walk fast, and suddenly stop from time to time, often looking sideways.
This thought-provoking street action is designed specifically for Melbourne by the Madrid-based mmmm… art collective with the support of the Embassy of Spain in Canberra. It will be held to coincide with the eponymous exhibition mmmm… their first retrospective (RMIT Gallery – 21 July- 9 September).
“In Australia, rabbits have negative connotations of invasive animals that destroy the local ecosystem, but universally rabbits are seen as cute and cuddly animals, and are considered pets in many countries. These contradictory associations, negative and positive, openly reflect with a touch of humour about the concepts of immigration, invasion, group, and identity,” the collective said.
mmmm… is a collaboration between Emilio Alarcón, Alberto Alarcón, Ciro Márquez and Eva Salmerón, who have been creating projects for public spaces since 1998 from Spain. All collective members will be in Melbourne for the exhibition opening and events. The exhibition explores 13 very different projects from 2000 to 2016 – including Human Rabbit Action, an intriguing project made specifically for RMIT Gallery – and Melbourne!
On Thursday 27 July from 5.30-6.30 pm at RMIT Gallery, local performer and academic Dr Mick Douglas (RMIT) will hold a public discussion with the mmmm… collective to explore performance street actions in an age of heightened security and risk. Who has access to public space? Who can speak and perform within it? Who can claim ownership of public space, and ultimately the ownership of events in the public sphere?
There are 205 temporary bollards around the CBD, installed as anti-terror measures, designed to prevent the type of vehicle-based attack seen overseas and in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall. While artists have taken to covering them with colourful material and graffiti art, the bollards remain a reminder of safety issues in our cities.
In light of terrorism related incidents increasing in Melbourne and overseas, what is the role of public art actions in reshaping cultural landscapes and reclaiming public space in cities today?