People pretty pissed about Banksy's painted pachyderm

"Banksy, Banksy, Banksy! Enough, already!" wrote Defamer. A hella-hyped LA warehouse show by the self-described British "art terrorist" is taking place this weekend in LA. And in it, there's an actual live elephant, painted pink.

A lot of people are upset about that, and the timing is somewhat sensitive. Just three months ago, an elephant at the LA Zoo named Gita died amid allegations of neglect. If the LA Zoo wasn't a hospitable environment for such an intelligent, wild critter, is a downtown warehouse full of Brangelina and chardonnay better?

The technicolor elephant lives on a private reserve in Southern California. The paint she's wearing doesn't hurt her, says her caretaker, and Nelly has appeared in a number of commercials and movies so she's "used to wearing makeup." Stil, others believe her inclusion is exploitative and abusive. has more here on the controversy. There's an LA Times article here. Snip:

'I think it sends a very wrong message that abusing animals is not only OK, it's an art form,' said Ed Boks, general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services. 'We find it no longer acceptable to dye baby chicks at Easter, but it's OK to dye an elephant.' Boks found himself decrying the presence of the elephant in the exhibit even though his agency had issued the two permits necessary to have the elephant there – 'to my chagrin,' he said. He tried late Friday to revoke the permits on grounds of public safety.

'Some of the experts I've talked to have told me there's no way of predicting when an elephant will go berserk,' he said. 'We want to do what's right by the public and the animal.'

However, Boks would have to give five days' notice to revoke the permits. And in five days, the exhibit will be gone. It is to run today and Sunday from about noon to 8 p.m. 'This situation is causing the department to rethink its permitting procedures so there will be more scrutiny, so permits will not be issued for such frivolous abuse of animals in the future,' he said. Although people may be drawn for artistic reasons, he added, 'they don't understand what the animal is suffering. I think we're dealing with the psychology of an animal that needs to roam over large areas of land.'

(thanks brian)

Reader comments:
Paul Mitchum says,

Where's Peter Sellers when you need him? Link.

Edith says,

Despite one photographer's poorly exposed (or deliberately adjusted) photos, Banksy's elephant is not pink – It's red and gold, painted to match the walls in another part of the show. We saw it entering the warehouse in the full light of day and it's definitely red.

I know people reference the "big pink elephant in the middle of the room", but the point of the installation is that the large elephant in the room has been painted to try to make it seem like part of the room, as if people wouldn't notice. Thanks for reporting on it – it was a great art show to see.

Dave Bullock (eecue) says,

Last night I got a private tour of the Banksy show in Downtown LA. The elephant was probably either sleeping or working in the factory making ground corn, but I did spend some time and photograph nearly every piece in the show. Link.

Over at ultrabrown, Manish says,

The activists would have a fit over elephants in India.

Bob Cooley writes,

Just a quick note of little consequence; but as a photog of 20+ years, I wanted to correct a comment. In one of the reader comments posted on boing boing regarding banksy's "pink" elephant, a reader replies:

Despite one photographer's poorly exposed (or deliberately adjusted) photos, Banksy's elephant is not pink – It's red and gold, painted to match the walls in another part of the show. We saw it entering the warehouse in the full light of day and it's definitely red.

The photographer (lucinda) didn't expose the image poorly, nor did she deliberately modify the color of the elephant; this is simply a matter of the image being shot indoors, without flash (because that probably would have freaked out the elephant) and likely in the evening. Tungsten lights (which includes most indoor lighting that involve bulbs and in this case the clearly-seen chandelier) illuminate at a color temperature which is actually quite yellow/orange to film (or in digital that is set to white balance as film). The human eye naturally adjusts for this and makes any indoor scene you view seem correctly colored, but film captures the scene as it actually is (including the true color of the light).

The only mistake the photog made was to not filter the image as they shot it or to correctly adjust it in post-processing. I applied the equivilent of #82 cooling filter (the filter that a knowlegable photographer or motion picture creator would use to compensate for shooting with tungsten lights), and as you can see (image below and attached) the elephant (as well as the rest of the scene) are more true to what you see/experience live: Red elephant, gold designs, white light. There is also a slight drop in saturation that is characteristic of the extra yellow shift of the light on film.

Truth is, most americans find a slight shift to the yellow more pleasing in photos due to the extra color saturation and overall warm "feeling" of the image (europeans tend to prefer a cooler color shift). But in this case it is just the photog not adjusting/filtering properly for the light. Its not incorrect exposure nor is it likely on purpose.

Okay – I understand that this is pretty tech-geeky; but it is an obvious mistake to any pro or experienced shooter, and I wanted to point it out.

Update: The elephant is now naked. This is an atrocity. Someone call PETA, stat. Ashley says,

Here's a picture of the elephant at Banksy's Barely Legal show today; as you can see — no longer pink (or red).