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Meet the Skywhale
May 9, 2013 9:08 PM   Subscribe

2013 is the centenary of the establishment of Canberra, and to mark the occasion the ACT Government has commissioned a piece of art to embody the true spirit of the city: the Skywhale (video; official site; parental advisory warning: huge inflatable mutant whale nudity). By former Canberra resident Patricia Piccinini (site loads random picture; not guaranteed SFW), the Skywhale has attracted predictable controversy.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks (55 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
warning: huge inflatable mutant whale nudity

I kind of want this on a t-shirt.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:12 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It really is quite ugly.
posted by pompomtom at 9:13 PM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


When this shows up on HuffPo you just know it's gonna have the "sideboob" tag.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:15 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Arrrr.. that be no whale..

But I kinda like it.
posted by Ahab at 9:15 PM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


It really is quite ugly.

Compared to Canberra generally, it's the Mona Lisa.

I actually like it. It's whimsical. The world needs more whimsy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:16 PM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like Piccinni's works, and I recognized a few of them from browsing through her gallery, but I don't really think the balloon is a good piece to represent a city of 350K people, especially given how loudly Canberrans like to complain about all the roadside art the territory government puts around town.
posted by barnacles at 9:18 PM on May 9, 2013


Tim Blair has some wry comments about the thing.

According to him, it was made in England. And though public money paid for it, the government doesn't own it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:19 PM on May 9, 2013


Centenary of Canberra creative director Robyn Archer confirmed that the 23 metre tall creation is not owned by the ACT Government, but the company that operates the balloon.

I still like the balloon, but that is asinine. Which muppet brokered that deal?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:21 PM on May 9, 2013


Oh, Canberra. Is it something in the water?
posted by gingerest at 9:22 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am rather looking forward to seeing the flying boob whale tomorrow.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 9:28 PM on May 9, 2013


Previous Canberran ballooning awesomeness.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:35 PM on May 9, 2013


I invoke Rule 34 under the statutes of the ICRW.
posted by not_on_display at 9:35 PM on May 9, 2013


Hm, it looks like there is a special Skywhale site that I probably should have included in the post even though it's kind of hard to use.

Here it is, with a discussion of the themes of the work here.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:45 PM on May 9, 2013


The longer I look at it the more I like it. I just don't know why.
posted by the fox's daughter at 9:46 PM on May 9, 2013


It's because it looks so happy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:00 PM on May 9, 2013


I really like this. (OMG the money, cry the shock jocks. I would like to point them towards the AIS. Oh wait, that's right, funding gold medals is our national duty.)

(I support the AIS it just amuses me the lather certain people work themselves into about arts funding.)
posted by jasperella at 10:09 PM on May 9, 2013


Ah, that explains it - I was all "WTF?! What sort of f'd-up whale is that?" when I saw pics the other day, but I still kinda liked it.

Didn't realise it was by Patricia Piccinini. I always loved her "We Are Family" & "Game Boys Advanced" style stuff, but was pretty ambivalent about the trucks, Vespas etc. Until I saw them IRL and fell in love with them…

(yeah, don;t get me started on the AIS, state sports academies, etc. Cancel the lot, fund the ABC properly, and let SBS have the dregs when they get rid of in-programme ads…)
posted by Pinback at 10:36 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(covers face as the dead-eyed monstrosity marches past)
posted by The otter lady at 10:42 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd assume the paying for it but not owning it thing is due to the fact that unlike say a painting you can't just plonk it in a room and be done with it.

It may not be the next blue poles, but I think boob whale balloon is great.
posted by onya at 10:55 PM on May 9, 2013


As a major sponsor of the IBTC, I must say that that... thing is rather offensive.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:05 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks more like a parrot to me. What have whales to do with Canberra, anyway? Myself, I think it's absurd to spend that money then not own what was paid for. WTF? A work of art that could forever grace some public square or lobby would seem more reasonable.
posted by Goofyy at 11:23 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It looks like a perverted Pokemon. Maybe a PokeGirl. Some kind of creepy Pokemon.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:25 PM on May 9, 2013


Oh c'mon people.

What does a huge amount of hot air have to do with Canberra?

Sheesh, who could possibly figure that one out?

Anyways, I'll go take photos of it on the weekend.
posted by sien at 11:26 PM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


If suppose if any sky-Ahab wants to puncture it, its pretty easy.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:26 PM on May 9, 2013


What does a huge amount of hot air have to do with Canberra?

Don't forget, it's also a bunch of total boobs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:30 PM on May 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Where have I seen this before? Oh, yeah! (NSFW)
posted by salishsea at 11:47 PM on May 9, 2013


pretend I could embed a gif of the swinging boob shamen from the Simpsons movie

I look forward to a whole week of increasingly assinine debate about this, complete with a question on Q&A, a joke by Tony Abbott, some good skewering on Micallef's Mad as Hell, and some weird letters in the papers.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:57 PM on May 9, 2013


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: "I look forward to a whole week of increasingly assinine debate about this, complete with a question on Q&A, a joke by Tony Abbott, some good skewering on Micallef's Mad as Hell, and some weird letters in the papers."

Ahh, and don't forget that we'll almost certainly see it in the coming months as we ramp up to September 14!

Libs: "Do you remember the so-called 'skywhale' in Canberra? What a perfect emblem of the out-of-touch waste of the Gillard government and the rest of Canberra!"
Us: "Well, that was a territory government thing, actually, and not related to the Labor party or Gillard at all, and in fa..."
Libs: "LALALA CAN'T HEAR YOU SKYWHALE REPRESENTS CANBERRA'S WASTE AND LABOR'S LACK OF FAMILIARITY WITH WHAT VOTERS WANT"
Us: "oh, fer fuck's sake"
posted by barnacles at 12:31 AM on May 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Today I found out I'm being sent to Canberra twice in the next few months. This will make Canberra just that little bit more completely fucking ridiculous, and for that I'm thankful. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
posted by Jimbob at 12:32 AM on May 10, 2013


Gotta say that while I'm on the left end of the spectrum my intial response to the Skywhale is revulsion (and the Pokemon thing).
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:41 AM on May 10, 2013


I love Skywhale.
posted by dumbland at 1:01 AM on May 10, 2013


the first dodgy Skywhale political cartoon has appeared
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:03 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somehow it makes me laugh to look at pictures of it. It would be even better if the operator could choose to have to boobs point upward sometimes.
posted by Lynx at 2:42 AM on May 10, 2013


What this needs, more than anything, is lasers.

You know where.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:33 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And here is skywhale re-enacting a famous moment in history.

I love skywhale
posted by girlgenius at 4:16 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I usually don't hate Patricia Piccinini's work, although I rarely like it, but this is.... dumbfuckery.

No one needs huge floating mammaries.

It has a twitter. Of course.
I pity Canberra.


(Dr Who and Torchwood did it better. Hell, I think Spelljammer did it better. SPELLJAMMER!).
posted by Mezentian at 5:37 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd guess they don't own it because they didn't fully pay for it. I don't see that $170k would leave any room for profit after the cost of materials and labour.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 AM on May 10, 2013


This hits so many sexual fantasies of mine I don't know what to do.
posted by orme at 7:16 AM on May 10, 2013


I love Skywhale. Unfortunately I think traveling to Canberra just to see it is beyond what my budget can support. How about a Skywhale World Tour?
posted by asperity at 7:32 AM on May 10, 2013


so it is 50 cents per citizen of the city?

i betcha' by the end of the summer this whale will be *beloved*.
posted by striatic at 7:51 AM on May 10, 2013


Ms Piccinini says the large breasts reflect how whales are mammals and breast-feed their young.

Huh.
posted by Mister_A at 12:42 PM on May 10, 2013


Ms Piccinini says the large breasts reflect how whales are mammals and breast-feed their young.

The thing that bugs me about this is that, biologically, she doesn't seem to have done her homework. Why don't actual whales have a collection of ridiculous stereotypical white-lady teardrop breasts? They don't need them and they can't use them.

Those of you who also have this shade of skin know that it burns in the sun. How adaptive is that for a creature that spends its life in the air? And why does it need so many? A whale is a K-strategist. It only feeds one or two offspring at a time. A real whale has two hidden dugs, covered by their black or blue skin, because that protects them from the elements. I'm not saying I don't like artistic license, but c'mon, lady, read a Dougal Dixon book at least.

(Really, though, I had popped in here to link the "Skywhales" cartoon, which is already linked upthread by the otter lady. It is a little masterpiece.)
posted by Countess Elena at 3:54 PM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


It looks like a coelacanth with a boob-wig.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:38 PM on May 10, 2013


It isn't whale enough for me. I would have better enjoyed just a giant floating whale. Whale, that's all I got to add.
posted by Atreides at 5:23 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, that was fun. There was a decent crowd and most people seemed quite amused by the spectacle. I took a few shots.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 7:11 PM on May 10, 2013


To me, the head looks like a Tortoise.

And I think it's hideous.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:37 PM on May 10, 2013


Countess Elena: "The thing that bugs me about this is that, biologically, she doesn't seem to have done her homework … c'mon, lady, read a Dougal Dixon book at least."

I don't know how much of her other work you've seen, but theories of natural selection and adaptive morphology don't feature highly. If anything, the opposite.

Canberrans are probably overwhelmingly relieved that it isn't a giant hairy flying disembodied geriatric arse…
posted by Pinback at 8:09 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buboes. Bubo the Whale.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:59 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Skywhale too.
posted by 6 short of a carton at 4:36 AM on May 11, 2013


The delighted expression of the Skywhale is reminiscent of another famous flying whale.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:45 AM on May 11, 2013


Previously rejected ideas for giant government symbols: The White Elephant, The Lame Duck, The Stultifying Boar.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:47 AM on May 11, 2013


Rejected?

White Elephant.

Lame Duck.

Stultifying Boar (I did my best, but if that's not good enough, here's a stultified bear).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:08 AM on May 11, 2013


OMG, I actually found an inflatable boar, in a Hong Kong exhibition.

Also a non-lame duck.

And, finally, the best potential symbol I've seen so far for Canberra political scene.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:30 AM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The ten most wonderful things committed to Hansard as a result of the Skywhale.
posted by gingerest at 4:55 PM on May 16, 2013


Hindenboob!
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:34 PM on May 17, 2013


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