In front of the Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C., last week a works of art appeared. It was a giant piece of chicken wire covered in paper cutouts and signs. When people looked around, they made guesses on its meaning.
If you spent some time looking at the piece, maybe not every chicken was fooled by the meaning. Nevertheless, a large part of D.C. was trying to decipher the work — it’s called “Our Exotic Guest” — to the point that people near it started dropping their phones (thinking that a drone was stealing their photos).
The piece was cut by in the Boy and Bear Community, a collaborative art project that aims to “cut anti-establishment art from walls and out of museums.” It’s a completely nonviolent response to “art that we know is celebrating violent death and chaos,” says a post about the project on Facebook.
Banksy is the anti-establishment artist whose anonymous reputation has made him a star since the 1990s. In recent years, his art has been appearing all over the globe, with seemingly different, and controversial, angles. In 2013, he appeared in Iran. In 2014, he appeared in Israel.
“Our Exotic Guest” is just the latest piece made by Boy and Bear. There’s also one in San Francisco’s Union Square.
That same day, a group of art students from DC’s Whitman College spent several hours trying to figure out what the piece was. As they entered the Botanical Garden, college junior Kiel Culkin, 18, said he and his friends were getting “pretty heated.”
“We want to be accurate,” he said. “But what’s happening at the moment is absurd, so we don’t know where we’re supposed to start.”
After a few minutes, Culkin took photos of the piece and started wondering how the art would fit within the context of the garden. Eventually, Culkin said, he came to the conclusion that it was the antithesis of cleanliness.
“Whoever has it can probably pick it up and use it as crap,” he said.
The installation runs through July 5. The artist who created the piece — presumed to be an unknown Israeli — has never been heard of before, Culkin said.
But the art students seemed certain they understood it.
“There’s an anti-vandalism feel to it,” said Culkin. “It’s a stick. It makes you say, ‘I’m going to get a bigger stick.’”