Roger Water’s lavish production of The Wall came to Los Angeles over the weekend and, as luck would have it, Os Gêmeos happened to also be in town working on a private commission for a movie star with impeccable taste. “We didn’t plan it,” said Octavio Pandolfo, one half of The Twins whose recent show, “Miss You” at PRISM, offered a dazzling labyrinth of their vivid characters and magical realism. “We didn’t even know The Wall was here, but we wouldn’t miss it!” Octavio pulls on his respirator mask, grabs a can of spray paint between his feet and pitches in the air like a soccer ball. He scrambles up a piece of scaffolding and joins his brother Gustavo on the eastern side of The Pig.
Pink Floyd began using giant inflatable pigs in 1977. The first pig, a 40-foot inflatable named Algie, was designed by artist Jeffrey Shaw, and famously broke loose from its tethers during a photo shoot for Animals, causing flights out of Heathrow to be cancelled. (A similar escape took place in 2008 when Roger Waters performed at Coachella, and one of the inflatable pigs floated out into the great blue of the Southern California desert.) But, while The Pig has appeared on may tours, in many guises over the years – sometimes pink, sometimes resembling a boar or a warthog, sometimes boasting enormous testicles – it has special significance during The Wall. Typically appearing just before “Run Like Hell,” it is a bloated representation of the malignant influences that stifle freedom and creativity. During enclosed arena shows, a smaller, remote controlled pig is flown over the crowd, but this is the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, an enormous outdoor space worthy of an enormous black pig with blood-dipped tusks.
This pig arrived in LA bearing the fascist-inspired crossed-hammers logo and the ominous words “Trust Us” painted across its loin, as well as a few additional symbols such as a dollar sign, a Christian cross, a Star of David, and a bloody Shell gas logo, but the rest is up to the Twins. Their style is fast and loose, and fun. Ray Ackerman and Arnaldo Pandolfo, who have come to help The Twins, toss cans of spray paint up to the brothers from the ground and provide translations for slogans between adding their own touches. Soon, small Mickey Mouse Hitlers are falling like bombs across the pig’s flank. It’s eyes, characteristic of Os Gêmeos, appear beady and beleaguered with fine lines emanating from the simple black and white iris. The phrase “Your son will die in the next war” drips under the pig’s tail. USSA appears under its head. Gustavo sprays his hands red and smears them across the spare rib. A cadaverous Uncle Sam emerges on one hip, a ragdoll with wide-staring eyes, reminiscent of “The Trial,” appears on a leg. Barbed wire circles its feet.
This isn’t the first time The Twins have painted Roger Waters’ pig. They did their first in 2007, and another just last month in Sao Paulo. “Whenever we are in the same place and at the same time,” says production manager Chris Kansy who is a great admirer, and a friend. “It’s always amazing to have them.” So this is also not the first time The Twins have the seen the show, but when they finally pack up their backpacks and head to their seats, they look as excited as kids. “It’s important,” proclaims Octavio. “Just wait until you see the show.”
Roger Water’s production of The Wall is jaw-dropping. Part theater, part concert, part spectacle, the show boasts several enormous inflatable puppets based on familiar designs of the Teacher, the Mother, and the Wife, as well as a remote-controlled WWII plane that crashes in a large fireball. The 450-foot wall (it will reach almost 900 feet in Canada) is bathed in turns by video projections of politically pointed stencil graffiti, photographs of fallen soldiers, animation from the original movie, and, ultimately, rows and rows of hammers. When The Pig finally floats out high over the audience, it is at the crescendo of Roger Water’s egomaniacal possession as the character Pink. The Pig is an ominous silent specter, twisting in a ruddy spotlight against the inky night sky. The words, “Start the Riot” cover its belly. When the wall finally comes tumbling down, so does the pig. Dragged to the ground and torn to shreds by the frenzied crowd, it disappears little by little as if getting churned through a meat grinder. People play tug-of-war over the scraps, unaware they were painted by the deft hands of Os Gemeos. Somewhere in the crowd, I know The Twins are grinning ear to ear.
L to R: Ray Ackermann, Gustavo Pandolfo, Arnaldo Pandolfo, Roger Waters, Octavio Pandolfo
The Pig torn by the crowd.