Human Rabbits take on the city

Human Rabbits were seen basking in the sun just outside of the State Library of Victoria on Friday, 28 July 2017. Fifty Human Rabbits were unleashed onto the streets of Melbourne as part of mmmm… collective’s public art performance. PHOTO: Ariani Adam

Fifty masked rabbits don’t go unnoticed. When volunteers with rabbit cardboard-heads on their shoulders marched down the busy Swanston Street last Friday, they instantly turned heads at the first pedestrian crossing.

Organised by the Spanish art collective mmmm… the Human Rabbit Action saw the human rabbits march the streets of Melbourne on 28th July 2017. The big action that went on for two hours from noon, started at the RMIT Gallery itself.

Alberto Alarcón (middle) of mmmm… collective briefing marshals regarding the safety of the volunteers on the event day. Alarcón makes up mmmm… collective together with brother Emilio Alarcón, and siblings Eva Salmerón and Ciro Márquez. PHOTO: Ariani Adam

As with any major art action, preparation was essential. The members of mmmm… had been briefing and actively talking to the volunteers prior to the event day, getting everyone excited for what was to come.

When the big day arrived, volunteers of all ages who were part of the action came together at the gallery as early as 11am to put their rabbit cardboard-heads together with the help of the artists themselves. Without a doubt, their hard work paid off when the rabbits scattered on the streets and engaged the public audience.

One of the volunteers said, “I thought it was great to see the city in a different perspective, although a restricted one, it was cool to see how everyone reacted to the rabbits”.

The Consul General of Spain in Melbourne also took part in the street action performance. Mr. Juan Carlos Gafo Acevedo said, “It was amazing to interact with people and to be thought provoking because that was the whole purpose of it. It was great to be out in the streets, it was fantastic”

Two bunnies were given carrots by strangers while walking down the streets. Their witty Starbucks barista even wrote down “Bugs Bunny” on their coffees to join in the fun. PHOTO: Ariani Adam

Herald Sun Screenshot

Melburnians and tourists mostly responded to the action by grabbing their phones while some confused passers-by took it upon themselves to clarify the cause of action with the volunteers. Some even wanted to buy the rabbit heads, inquiring as to where they could purchase the “cute” novelty. Amidst the amusing comments that were floating around the streets, some people, however, were a little fearful of the action.

Gloria Tanuseputra, a 21-year-old undergraduate student said: “I was a little scared. I thought it looked like a public stunt for an upcoming horror film”.

During the busy lunch break, more phones were brought out, with many people even going out of their way to send it to several media outlets, asking for some explanation to the madness. The Herald Sun picked it up right away, giving the public an insight into the on-going action with an on-the-spot interview by Reece Hooker with mmmm… collective’s Ciro Márquez.

mmmm… collective posing for a photo with the Consul General of Spain in Melbourne (Left to right: Ciro Márquez, Eva Salmerón, Mr. Juan Carlos Gafo Acevedo, Alberto Alarcón and Emilio Alarcón with the rabbit cardboard head). By the end of the Human Rabbit Action, mmmm… collective was happy with the public response. PHOTO: Ariani Adam

Márquez said: “Rabbits are viewed negatively as 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, urge us to openly consider, not without a touch of humour, the concepts of immigration, invasion, group and identity.”

On the topic of group and identity, Eva Salmerón said that it was interesting to see how volunteers in Melbourne have come together. Compared to Spain, where big actions were mainly undertaken by mutual friends or acquaintances, the Melbourne action recruited volunteers from RMIT and social media.

Member of mmmm… collective Emilio Alarcón was very pleased with the outcome of the performance. He said, “I’m very happy especially for the volunteers because they have committed themselves into being rabbits and every one was completely different. I’m happy with the experience and the support from RMIT and the volunteers, it has been amazing”.

With that thought, it would be interesting to note the sense community that we have built in Melbourne, especially in the things we take part in – from art, to music, to even discussions. People from all walks of life are always welcomed to the different interests that we have in common for one sole purpose: the harmony of coming together.

If you’d like to find out more about mmmm… collective’s artwork, come down to RMIT Gallery for their exhibition happening now until the 9th September 2017.

Ariani Adam is a third-year Bachelor’s of Communication (Media) student at RMIT University, currently doing an internship with the RMIT Gallery. 

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