Mark Jenkins is a Washington D.C. based artist that is well known for his street installation exhibits. For his S.O.S project he teamed with Greenpeace to make a statement about global warming and the effects on the future of polar bears. The S.O.S piece was quite entertaining and caused a stir in the D.C. area this past September.
The exhibit featured polar bear costumed figures displayed around the city as hobos. The statement being made here is the impact global warming and climate change is having on the polar bear population that has been popular in the media lately. Unfortunately local authorities were alarmed by one particular installation fearing that it may be a bomb! The Washington Post reports that the Columbia Heights Metro Station at 14th and Northwest streets in Washington D.C. was shut down for two hours as 218 commuters were bussed to safety. The bomb squad arrived in their armored vehicle, jumped the figure, and dismantled the tape and newspaper stuffed dummy until the scene was deemed safe.
We made a series of human-like homeless polar bears and installed them around DC to get people to think about the issue (of melting arctic ice) with more empathy. it seemed people liked them a lot and took pictures of their kids in front of them, etc. but most were removed pretty quickly by the authorities. the last image is one that was met with ill-fate after being deemed a "suspicious package." so the whole thing ended up have a touch of irony to it when compared to the actual situation.
Greenpeace and Mark Jenkins use the streets as their stage making their pairing work so well. The forms were constructed by casting members of the project into a mold to form a body shape then using a costume polar bear head and placing the “homeless bear” in locations and actions characteristic to a human in a street life situation. With the severe decrease in arctic sea ice in the past few years the effort by Mark and Greenpeace is to gain support for the listing of the polar bear as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.