Ever wonder what it’s like to be a hamster, or a tiny pet lizard, or maybe even a goldfish? These giant human figures come close to you, but they don’t mean you any harm. They watch you, in delight or interest — or both.
Australian artist Amanda Parer turns the table on that very idea with her installation, Fantastic Planet. You may have noticed the installation of six inflatable figures, some up to 14 metres tall, in various downtown spots. These giants are her works of art, and they’ve toured the world. They lord over a city for a few weeks, then are rolled up and flown to another city that they can lord over for a few weeks, and so on. It’s large-scale art made portable.
Parer’s pieces were brought to Edmonton to kick off Downtown Spark, a project that brings people downtown to engage with art, but in a way where they can keep their social distance. Explore Edmonton, the Edmonton Arts Council and the Downtown Business Association are all supporting the project.
The piece installation was influenced by Parer’s child-like love for the Czech-French animated film of the same name. In that movie, humans are on a planet ruled by giants. The giants see the humans are vermin. But, in Parer’s sculptures, the giants have come to Earth, and they’re simply happy to watch us pass our days.
“In my piece, the giants have come to our planet, to explore us in a very benign way,” she says. “In a very gentle way, they’re observing us.”
Things really changed for Parer when she began learning about how to sculpt using inflatables.
“It developed into an idea when I discovered the inflatable medium. That’s my main medium at the moment. Prior to 2014, I was a painter-sculptor. Finding I could work with inflatables allowed me to extend into art installations where I could create such large pieces such as this one.”
Until very recently, if an artist created a piece the size of Fantastic Planet, it would be permanently rooted to one spot. But the inflatables mean that an artist can now create something to massive scale, have them “fold up like giant sleeping bags” (Parer’s words) and put on a plane.
“The event holders get more bang for their buck, and it’s great for me because I can do more in that medium,” she says.