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Robert Panda - Making Stupid

Words:

Edd Norval
April 10, 2018

Robert Panda has made a name for himself laughing at you, us and himself. Beginning with mocking politicians and financiers before realising that everyone around them is just as stupid - so he had an idea to help us join in on the joke.

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What started as hanging effigies took a much lighter and more humorous turn. The initial objects of Panda's ire were the usual suspects - your politicians, bureaucrats and other such stiffs in suits.


Whilst working on this project he started to look around and he thought that these weren't actually the stupidest people in society. Maybe more malicious or predatory than others, but 'stupid'? No. While newspapers were busy blasting anyone they could catch in their scope, namely those mentioned above, he thought everyone deserved to take their fair share of blame - everyone could be 'stupid'.

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Now, calling someone stupid is very rarely a compliment, but in Panda's hands it sort of is - at least it isn't entirely an insult. It's a personality trait we all share, and if we could all embrace it would maybe help us to get through the tough times with a barrel of laughs and without the prescription of anxiety-pills.


Something about the colourful anthropomorphic sculptures of Panda make people want to interact with them, to take pictures with them - they seem to bring people together.


Crudely put together, the sculptures have a sort of randomness that makes them seem entirely at odds with their environment whilst still strangely fitting in. Their too-long-to-be-comfortable necks and blank expressions make them seem easily dispensable, like they are not conveying any emotion - but there's a twist. The sculptures don't give the feeling, it's the people that interact with them - they act goofy to try and fit in with this weird colourful half-human inhabiting spaces all around our cities.

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The odd figure isn't nameless. Mr. Stupid was first created to reside in a landfill, photographed to look out of place, unnecessary - to highlight our wastefulness and willingness to consume, consume, consume. After his humble and successful inauguration, he managed to emancipate himself from hot and smelly refuse pits to park benches and legions of adoring fans.


Robert Panda has made something weird, sort of just for the sake of doing so. The result is far beyond what he could have anticipated. A catalyst for friendship-forming photo ops, his character has taken on a life of his own, unburdened by the hands of Panda, he seems to roam streets and change colours whenever he gets bored.


The figures are friendly and most importantly fun. Being stupid to Panda isn't about failing tests or doing something genuinely dumb - it's more about letting go of yourself, momentarily forgetting what other people might think of you. Mr. Stupid is a part of all of us. Getting a picture and smiling with him is our way of acknowledging that.

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