ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Networks and Systems. Globalization as Subject

Who’s Afraid of Art, Pinky Show?


Pinky Show »Banked Into Submission (The Globalizationist's Guide to Developing Poverty)«, 2007. Video, 3,19 min.

They describe themselves as a 'super low-tech hand-drawn educational project' and are, above all else, uncomfortable contemporaries. Pinky Show has been broadcasting since 2006, and never lets up being like harsh static in the ear of the American political and media mainstream. In the colorful world of cartoons and comic-zines, the artistic collective treats of the forgotten, the suppressed and the outrageous: a conversation with the no less twee and leftist-progressive cat-protagonists Pinky and Bunny. 

GC: One of the questions the Blog asks Is art too dangerous? refers to contemporary art’s critical reactions to and interventions in the power relations of a globalized world. I then turn to your work, and look into those large and innocent eyes of Pinky and Bunny. Is Pinky Show a 'wolf in sheep's clothing'?

Pinky: No, I don't think so. Actually Bunny and I tend to be very straight-forward about what our positions are. We're not trying to trick anybody, like a politician in a beautiful suit. If you think we look cute, then thank you, but pretty much all cats look cute, even the ones with authoritarian or abusive tendencies. I think this may be one reason why cats are usually better at separating form and content than humans.

Bunny: I don't know how it is in Europe but in America, where we're from, most art is definitely not "too dangerous." I mean, it is not a serious threat to the established order of things. Far from it. I wouldn't say it's irrelevant but it's very well-contained. I wish it was a lot more dangerous!

GC: That you two are not at all that harmless can be seen when reviewing the discussion prompted by your one-page zines about globalization on youtube. 'Defending Globalization' has meanwhile generated almost 800 comments, and although it has been up for four years now, the debate has kept going. Would you go into a little more detail about why you choose to address the topic of globalization and the role that provoking controversy plays for you?

Pinky: If I remember correctly, we made the globalization comics as a way to build interest for a student's conference on education and globalization we were organizing with some of our friends.

Bunny: Yup.

Pinky: Bunny and I made a bunch of comics about globalization and started posting them all over walls and buildings, in and around local-area universities, graduate schools of education and so on. It was a way to have students and other people start talking about globalization, power, interests, ideology, etc. well in advance of the conference. By the time the conference happened a lot of people in the area were ready to be more active participants in a wider conversation - not just a passive audience - because they'd already been thinking and arguing about this stuff for a few months.

Bunny: A lot of the materials on our website have this kind of origin; most of the stuff we make is primarily intended to be used as a text to be discussed or argued over, in face-to-face settings. So it's kind of funny that we're so often called an internet-based project.

Pinky: You also asked about provoking controversy. We never had to deliberately try to provoke controversy because a lot of the things Bunny and I like to think and talk about are by nature easy for people to disagree with. Seems like we just open our mouth and all of a sudden a lot of people are grumpy at us. Also, the more we try to say things as clearly and simply as possible then there's ten times more people yelling or sending us angry e-mails.

GC: Pinky Show has a global audience. So the kind of 'critical curiosity' you stand for reaches people from completely different cultural, political and economic backgrounds. Besides the fact that people get mad, I wonder what reactions to your work you might get from people living in parts of the world you did not intend to, or else imagine you would reach? And do you think art can be a medium for change in some way?

Pinky: Yes, this aspect surprised us a lot. Bunny keeps track of where people are watching or downloading our materials from. It's like you said, all over the world - over 150 countries or something, so we can't possibly understand how it's all being understood. It does help when we go and meet with people face-to-face though, that's an essential part of creating a better understanding of our own work, and it definitely loops around and affects what we make afterwards. As for change, sometimes we get some really wonderful emails from people who tell us stories about how our work changed their life for the better, or helped them through some kind of difficulty. I'm convinced this is pretty common because there are a lot of books or art pieces, that when I saw them, they changed me or helped me a lot. I suppose this is more personal change though, not social change, which requires more.

For further information on Pinky Show please visit their The Global Contemporary-artist page, their website and youtube chanel


Add comment

Security code