If someone told you they’d just spotted a group of giant colored rabbits in the street you’d be forgiven in thinking they’d been at the wacky baccy again. Yet, since 1983, random sightings like these have materialized across Europe, and all without the aid of mind-altering drugs.

All images courtesy of Cracking Art Group

These crazy creations make up one of many art installations by European art collective the Cracking Art Group. Consisting of six innovative artists from Italy, Belgium and France, the Cracking Art movement was initiated with the intention of changing art history. The group aims to do this “through both a strong social and environmental commitment and the revolutionary and innovative use of different plastic materials that evoke a strict relationship between natural life and artificial reality.”

Even the group’s name reflects the conflict between nature and the increasingly superficial life many people lead. In their words: “Cracking is the gap of the contemporary man, struggling between the primary naturalness and a future more and more artificial.” Cracking is also the process by which many plastics are synthesized, converting the natural into the artificial, the organic into the synthetic; hence their use of recycled plastic in all their works.

The group’s 2009 “Big Rabbits” installation was exhibited in various cities across Europe. Old plastic water bottles were collected from landfill sites and refashioned into various colored bunnies, an attempt by the collective to highlight the need for recycling. Ranzo Nucara of the Cracking Art Group explains, “The rabbit is the symbol of reproduction and proliferation. A positive message in this time of confusion. We made a ‘Big Rabbit’ because, in accordance with our work, the animal becomes the witness of the change of nature and her balance.”

It is an unconventional way of promoting environmental conservation and the need for recycling, but it’s clever — the public grow blind quickly to well-meaning posters that dot cities urging us to recycle. No one can avoid a great big orange bunny. Once the works have been showcased the plastic animals are destroyed and the material is reused to give birth to a new animal and another project. Other exhibits have included blue penguins crossing a suspension bridge in Biella, Italy; gold turtles emerging from the water at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001 and a giant red poodle waiting to be attacked by purple crocodiles at an exhibit in Rome in 2007. The most recent installation at the end of 2009 saw huge fuchsia snails meandering around Milan.

As with many art installations, the viewer may not necessarily “get it” immediately, but that’s OK. Much of art exists with the sole purpose of wanting to elicit a response, whether good or bad — as long as it’s thought provoking, that’s all most artists strive for. So, the Cracking Art Group appear to have cracked it. In a world where advertising is so proliferate it’s sometimes hard to get noticed, giant colored animals certainly seem to get the message across. For other works by the Cracking Art Group, visit their website.