Editor’s Note: This article features brief profanity.
Though giant inflatable cats with laser beam eyes are not part of its usual exhibition lineup, the nonprofit organization Washington Project for the Arts aims to engage art and cat lovers alike in a display this Friday and Saturday at The Yards Park in Southeast Washington, D.C., WPA Program Director Samantha May said.
With the nonprofit’s mission to support artists and promote contemporary art, WPA will host Barcelona’s contemporary artist duo, Hungry Castle, and the pair’s latest feline installation, Laser Cat, with hopes of enlivening the Yards Park area this winter with an art-infused dance party.
Laser Cat, a 20-foot by 20-foot inflated cat head, will sit in the middle of the Yards and project 100 artistic works from local and international artists through its laser beam eyes.
The public will get to interact with Laser Cat, pushing the show forward by pressing a giant red “panic” button on Laser Cat’s head that will change the art projected through its laser beam eyes, May said.
The installation will display everything from cat sculptures to laser photography, Cooper said, who has crowd sourced works online from artists all over the world on Hungry Castle’s website feedlasercat.com.
The Laser Cat event received more than 6,000 RSVPs and hundreds of art submissions from the District alone, May said.
“Laser Cat has eaten almost 18,000 artworks and is totally spoiled for choice regarding the range of artworks submitted,” said Hungry Castle co-founder and Laser Cat co-creator Killian Cooper.
Cooper and his partner Dave Glass, who formed their duo four years ago after meeting at a design festival in Barcelona, first debuted Laser Cat in 2014 at the Art Directors Club (ADC) Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design Fair in Miami after being asked to create a new exhibition format to celebrate people’s personal art, Cooper said.
“We wanted to give people an opportunity to reconnect with their inner artist and have the chance for it to be shown around the world – by the means of being projected from a huge inflatable cat head,” Cooper said. “Laser Cat is all about the love and appreciation for creating art, which is something all creatives share.”
Cooper and Glass have been making art ever since, and have broken into the fashion world with their line called “Cool Shit.”
“All good art groups need T-shirts so we started making and selling them after shows and exhibitions,” Cooper said. “The response to the clothes was so epic we’ve kept doing it.”
Friday night’s Laser Cat display will show the images Hungry Castle has amassed from international artists, and there will be a performance by Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation. Saturday evening’s exhibit will focus on works from D.C.’s local artist scene. The performances will last from 8 to 11 p.m. on both nights.
Cooper also promises music, a beer garden, “dancing poo heads” inspired by Hungry Castle’s “Cool Shit” line, as well as “lots of lasers, lots of cats and awesome art in an awesome space.”
The event will also host a family-friendly daytime display of Laser Cat Saturday afternoon, called Laser Cat Kids, Cooper said, which will host a creative playtime workshop with local D.C. artist Lola Lombard.
Cooper said he leaves the public to decide whether or not Laser Cat is art.
“Is it art? Is it not art? Is it cool or is it shit?” said Cooper, whose past art projects with Hungry Castle’s partner Glass have included a giant inflated replica of Lionel Richie’s head that viewers could climb into.
“We’re letting the public decide by engaging them with it in the street. Before they make their minds up though, we ask them to fire art from Laser Cat’s laser beam eyes,” Cooper said.
Regardless of the audience’s decision, May said Laser Cat attendees can expect a unique experience unlike anything they have seen before in the District.
“How often do you get to see an art installation that takes the shape of a giant cat head that shoots laser art out of its eyes?”
Brittany Britto is a graduate student and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.