Likenesses of “Algie” the pig—the iconic inflatable that flew over the Battersea Park Power Station during a 1976 photo shoot for rock band Pink Floyd—will again be seen in the skies, this time in the city of Chicago and with a political statement to make.
"Flying Pigs on Parade: A Chicago River Folly" is an art installation created by New World Design Ltd. partners Jeffrey Roberts and Erich Stenzel. The piece consists of four gold colored helium balloons in the shape of pigs, which will hover, single file, at a height calculated to partially obscure the view of the contentious Trump Tower Chicago sign. The 20-foot x 141-foot “TRUMP” sign was positioned on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in 2014 and immediately drew public criticism for its scale and prominence. The screen of pigs is expected to appear as a single day art installation; a late August or early September deployment date is being negotiated with the City of Chicago. The exhibit will be tethered to a construction barge in the Chicago River and will float south of the tower in the public right-of-way.
Designed to be a visual interpretation of George Orwell's 1946 novella, Animal Farm (which itself was a commentary on political corruption and totalitarianism), the art is intended to function on several levels. Primarily it serves to promote thoughtful, considered dialogue in a political climate that has become increasingly reactionary and divisive. The four pigs are literal representations of characters in Orwell's novella, but they incorporate other references as well, ranging from a nod to Trump’s alleged "Miss Piggy" comment (directed toward a former Miss Universe) to the Trump penthouse interior color scheme.
"The design follows meticulous rationale in imparting layers of meaning but ultimately allows for interpretation by individual viewers," said Roberts.
With the permission of Roger Waters, co-founder, bassist and lead songwriter of Pink Floyd, Roberts and Stenzel will reproduce the original Battersea pig that was featured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s concept album Animals. The album was a musical interpretation of the Animal Farm allegory and a response to sociopolitical conditions in late-70s Britain. The balloon copyright is tightly held by Roger Waters, who has permitted use by New World Design for the art installation.
The balloons will be fabricated in Oxfordshire, England by ABC Inflatables; the company will also provide experienced handlers on site at the art exhibition to inflate and operate the balloons. ABC Inflatables has fabricated two other licensed replicas of the Pink Floyd pig templated from the original inflatable that was conceived by Waters and Hipgnosis in 1976.
Since the scheme’s introduction in late 2016, the design team has been resolving the engineering components and deployment logistics required to safely float the balloons. A website and social media pages have been created to provide project updates.
Roberts and Stenzel hope their art can inspire conversation and political action in the city of Chicago as well as the global community. If adequate funds can be raised, the exhibit will travel
to other U.S. cities. New World Design Ltd. will partner with New World Projects Ltd. for implementation of its art installations.
“We are a small group of designers creating visual commentary on the inflammatory nature of our current political environment. We are not radicals. We see design as our path to building and reinforcing a community of more rational, optimistic and inclusive minds,” said Roberts.