For all your animatronic processed food needs…

Walking down Seventh Avenue the other day, I noticed a new storefront had opened, joining the clutter of tourist traps and overpriced sushi joints that make wandering around West 4th feel like stepping onto the Disney set of New York City. While any establishment located next to the epilepsy-inducing Jekyll & Hyde Club certainly has its work cut out in distinguishing itself, this store still managed to attract a crowd, and definitely warranted more attention than its surroundings. For one thing, the window display featured an animatronic rabbit grooming itself in front of a boudoir. Next to it, there were three security cameras, all trained on each other, and only occasionally veering off slyly towards the street. On the other side of the door, a leopard was curled on a low-hanging branch, back turned to the outside world, and completely oblivious except for the periodic twitch of a tail. Upon further inspection, the leopard turned out to be a robotically enhanced fur coat. Finally, the store’s name: The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill.

As reported in last week’s Times, the Village Pet Store marks the triumphant return of Banksy, infamous British graffiti artist and prankster extraordinaire, and is accompanied by large murals of rats that have been materializing all over lower Manhattan. As the photo above demonstrates, Banksy’s rats are nearly as large as some of the actual rats I’ve seen lurking around the subway recently. The Pet Store is Banksy’s first official exhibit in New York — if dancing sausages qualify as anything approaching official — although Banksy’s last visit to the city saw him hang his own work in four of the city’s most famous museums. (It took four days before the Natural History Museum noticed and removed his missile-armed beetle from the Hall of Biodiversity).  As with much of Banksy’s work, the Pet Store takes an interesting premise — the intersection of food, ethics and capitalism — and riffs on it in a way that is initially engaging, but often degenerates into being coy and gimmicky. While the show is worth a visit (it doesn’t take longer than five minutes to see the whole thing), perhaps on some level, the location is appropriate after all.

~ by Jessica on October 15, 2008.

One Response to “For all your animatronic processed food needs…”

  1. I have heard that this is awesome (and not just from this blog). Quite anxious to visit.

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