Big Lizard’s Big Idea


Big Lizard’s Big Idea centred on a Disney-esque mascot, whose irrepressible 'fun' persona examined the nature of such characters. Whereas costumed characters usually exist to advance promotional interests (be they commercial or social), Big Lizard was more ambiguous in purpose – and the ‘Big Idea’ itself was slippery and elusive. Was Big Lizard trying to sell something? Trying to get you to join something? And if so, what? Whilst the presentation was bright and wholesome, was the reality something you’d really want to be a part of? With a playful nod toward outlandish conspiracy theories, the work encouraged participants to rethink their relationship to the world they inhabit, and never to take first impressions for granted.

The work’s entry point was via the Big Idea Fun Bus, located at a busy public space. Here members of the public were encouraged to get involved with the Big Idea though fun and games, and a 'wholesome' – but ultimately illusive and empty – message. Once drawn inside the work however, curious participants found themselves within a labyrinth of possibilities about the meaning of the work, encountered across a variety of private spaces and only revealed to those who had chosen to participate further. Increasingly intrigued and engaged by what they experienced, they ventured deeper and deeper into the work, seeking to discover for themselves what the Big Idea really was…?

With multiple participants experiencing different elements of Big Lizard’s Big Idea and many of the encounters happening purely between participants – outside the control or even observation of Reactor – the meaning of the work became mediated by the participants' own interactions. This is especially true when participants found themselves having to reconcile differing accounts, or different conclusions about their experiences, in order to reach a collective interpretation of the work's subject or meaning. In this way Reactor challenged participants to take ownership of their experiences and in doing so further developed the group's interest in the possibilities of 'the audience as artwork'.

A peculiar type of rebellion in which we don’t fight the system, but we get too involved, we play along too vigorously, we ’really believe in it’.

Look for the opening.

Framed around ice cream, champagne parties and a campaign vocabulary of positivity you are asked to engage in the beneficial and most likeable aspects of Big Lizard.

Reiterating and validating Big Lizard and his somewhat sinister Big Idea. “Big Lizard’s fun, give him a hug!”

Big Lizard’s Big Idea is like a big bowl of soup.

A masochistic pleasure in an undignified series of silly scenario’s for the perpetuation of a charismatic green reptile’s ambiguous plan for us all.

Additional resources

Poster (.pdf, 184 KB)

Poster (.pdf, 2 MB)

Masks (.jpg, 2 MB)

Big Lizard Show Theme and Remix

Big Lizard's Big Idea was a co-commission for Donau Festival (Krems, Austria) / Wunderbar Festival (Newcastle, UK) in 2009 and was supported by Arts Council England. The work was subsequently redeveloped and presented by Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt, Germany) as part of ‘Playing the City 2’ in 2010.