A Polar Bear’s Lap Is the Best Place to Be / Hyperallergic

Diego Leclery as polar bear (photo by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Diego Leclery as polar bear (photo by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

CHICAGO — For the past three Christmas seasons at The Suburban, an artist-run project space in Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam’s Oak Park backyard, artist Diego Leclery has decided to become a polar bear.

On Sunday, December 21, the polar bear situated itself in the corner of this cement-floored, white-walled gallery space, ready for lovin’. For two hours, the stuffed animal’s immovable legs, made sturdy by the magnificently artificial material of styrofoam, welcomed visitors to sit on them and snuggle its belly. Unlike the fleshy, possibly perverted legs of the jolliest red-coated Santa Claus — who can be found handing out fliers in front of shoe stores in Wicker Park, and inside packed suburban malls waiting to greet smiling children who still think he’s real — the polar bear has no ulterior motives. He exists simply to bring joy to all who visit him, explains Leclery, the man behind, and inside of, the bear.

“Really there’s no point to this bear — it’s an art-ed up holiday thing,” says Leclery, when I speak to him on the phone days after the event. “People who go to galleries and try to intellectualize everything just see it and get giddy. I’ve never had an art piece that works so well — art with consequence and emotion and not distancing and well-worn theoretical contexts.”

Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/100204/a-polar-bears-lap-is-the-best-place-to-be/