Congrats Maddie and the Unicorn Liberation Front! In this post, SDCAP shares with you a Black Rock City Honoraria project headed to Burning Man that has been awarded a 2019 Collaborative Arts Grant! Follow this post for updates on fundraising and when to come help with the build. Grants are available year-round (grant application), so it’s still not too late to get moving with an idea for this coming Burn!
Grant Awarded: $5000
Lead Artist: Madeleine Hamann
Toxic Unicorn is a mesmerizing, life-sized sculpture of a unicorn. She is made of translucent, rainbow-swirled, recycled HDPE plastic that is pelletized, extruded, wrapped, and molded onto a waffled plywood frame. The frame, designed to hold the weight of 5 adults, is laced with tri-color, addressable LEDs that shimmer like rainbow mist. Her mane and tail are fibrous strands made from 2L soda bottles with their edges left raw so that they are beautiful but scratchy and unpleasant to the touch. Her golden horn is wrapped in cow tape that delivers a safe but memorable 120V shock at 120 microamps. A spring mechanism attached to her tail opens a valve briefly to spritz water vapor, release ammonium sulfide, and dispel the smell of rotten eggs. She is supported by carousel pole that run through her centerline and beckons you to climb aboard, but proximity sensors on her back trigger disturbing, discomforting sounds if you stay too long!
Most Burners have run into a real-life Toxic Unicorn or two–those enchanting humans that draw you in until you realize there’s something a little… off.
Outwardly, Toxic Unicorn seems to encourage a superficial level interaction–a perfect prop for an insta-worthy photo. Her unpleasant reactive features, though, force participants to reckon with a playful, unexpected piece and her multi-level message.
On one level Toxic Unicorn is a shimmery facade warning that a focus on outward appearances can lead to disappointing, dissatisfying relationships rather than genuine interpersonal connection.
On another level, Toxic Unicorn’s composition begs us to reflect on humanity’s relationship with our favorite toxic unicorn material. Since post-war popularization, plastics have enabled incredible innovation and permeated human culture; now, we’re beginning to see something a little… off!
Though each will have a unique experience, Toxic Unicorn aims to instill curiosity and provoke reconsideration of those things in life that appear to be beautiful and perfect.