If you’ve set foot in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza over the past couple days, it’s likely you’ve noticed the new addition: a quintet of oversized inflatable rabbits that emit an unearthly glow after the sun goes down.

Each roughly two-stories tall with the tallest rising 23 feet in front of City Hall, the nylon leporids are each uniquely positioned: one appears to be hunched forward as to nibble on the world's largest invisible carrot; another stands erect on its back haunches, ears straight up and nose turned upward, as if on high alert; one assumes the stereotypical milk chocolate rabbit pose; another lays prostrate, just chillin' like a bunny should.

Whatever state they’ve been frozen in, each of the oversized rabbits that have hopped into town as part of “Intrude,” Australian artist Amanda Parer’s traveling public light art installation, needn’t worry about intruders themselves as they’re being protected 'round the clock by a dedicated security detail. The 24/7 security team, which will be on hand for the entire three-week run of “Intrude,” has been instructed to prevent the monumental bunnies from being vandalized, poked at, prodded and/or kidnapped and turned into stew.

"Intrude" by Amanada Parer, San Francisco Suffer from crippling leporiphobia? Steer clear of City Hall. Everyone else, go pay your respects your giant rabbit overlords. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the total cost to protect the five illuminated rabbits for three weeks is estimated to be in the ballpark of $34,000. This money will come from a mix of private and public funds. Thus far, taxpayers don’t seem to be too hopping mad about that.

The fact that San Francisco officials are treating the bunnies as a protected species is more than a wee ironic considering that the entire message of the installation is to raise awareness of Australia’s most destructive invasive species.

Rabbits in artist Amanda Parer’s native Australia are an out of control pest, leaving a trail of ecological destruction wherever they go and defying attempts at eradication. First introduced by white settlers in 1788 they have caused a great imbalance to the countries endemic species. The rabbit also is an animal of contradiction.

They represent the fairytale animals from our childhood — a furry innocence, frolicking through idyllic fields. Intrude deliberately evokes this cutesy image, and a strong visual humour, to lure you into the artwork only to reveal the more serious environmental messages in the work. They are huge, the size referencing “the elephant in the room”, the problem, like our environmental impact, big but easily ignored.

Food for thought, indeed. And the somewhat sinister title of Parer’s ephemeral work makes total sense now. Intrude.

"Intrude" by Amanada Parer, San Francisco Sure, Easter has passed but there's never a bad time for giant inflatable bunny rabbits. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Given that this is America, where our relationship with the rabbit isn’t quite as complicated as it is with our antipodean friends, “Intrude” serves as more a take whatever you want from it type of work as it might Down Under.

You can choose to ponder the environmental message of the installation or simply take it for face value. After all, you see a lot of truly weird stuff on the streets of San Francisco. But it’s not every day you’ll find an assemblage of light-up (there’s LEDs tucked inside each inflatable) bunnies the size of city buses congregating at Civic Center Plaza. It’s a cutesy and surprising work of public art, for sure. But for those with rabbit “issues” stemming from early Easter Bunny trauma, the installation might closer resemble a waking lagmorphic nightmare.

“I am thrilled for the bunnies to make their way across North America. I expect people will be drawn to the rabbits’ playful appearance, and I hope they will also take the time to understand the deeper meaning in the work and discuss how our actions impact the natural world in which we all live,” says Parer in a press release issued by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

"Intrude" by Amanada Parer, San Francisco Amanda Parer's illuminated installation will hop to New York, Houston, L.A., and Denver later this spring and summer. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Intrude” has already been inflated and deflated multiple times in other cities across the globe including Paris, Istanbul, Bratislava, Calgary, London, Toronto and, of course, Australian cities such as Sydney, Perth and Canberra. While San Francisco doesn’t mark the American debut of “Intrude” it does kick-off a whirlwind national tour for the bunnies.

The installation will be on view in San Francisco until April 23. Then, the bunnies (or at least two of them, anyways) will embark on a four-city tour presented by Arts Brookfield: Manhattan (April 17-30), Houston (May 9-14), Los Angeles (June 5-11) and Denver (June 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26). The bunnies are scheduled to rise once again at the Memphis Museum of Art in January 2017.

Via [SF Chronicle]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.