Does Trump Baby balloon remind you the flying pig on Pink Floyd’s album “Animals”? That’s not a coincidence…
Pink Floyd’s album cover creator, Aubrey Powell reveals in an exclusive interview on Issue vol.8 the behind the scenes of this foolish yet political image.
Text by: Fiammetta Cesana
London, July 2018
During Donald Trump’s controversial visit London last week, a 20 feet tall balloon of Trump, depicted as an angry child, took flight over UK Houses of Parliament. With a mobile phone on his hand and wearing a diaper, the blimp accompanied a crowd of two thousand protestants flying at 98 feet high. Leo Murray, the British activist who organised its flight, said that the inflatable Trump represents the image of a president who acts like a spoilt baby, yelling and insulting anytime he doesn’t get the desired toy. Not surprisingly, the balloon has gone viral through social media making the US President feel very unwelcome in the UK’s capital. What surprised many, instead, was discovering that it carries out a tribute to Pink Floyd’s political activism…
The creator of Pink Floyd’s album covers and founder of Hipgnosis art design group, Aubrey Powell points out in our interview the story of the iconic Animals cover image (1977). Algie, the pig flying over Battersea Power Station in London, was a huge inflatable, whose shooting resulted in funny anecdotes and whose meaning was politically and socially relevant.
“This was a Roger Waters’ idea. He realised the Pink Floyd were playing in stadiums to ninety thousands people, so he wanted to create something more for the concerts. He came from an architectural background and was interested in puppets and inflatables, so he decided to create a pig that was flying over the concerts. The pig was directly related to the track “Pigs on The Wing” of the album “Animals”, definitely about George Orwell’s animals, dunces, pigs and sheets, whose hierarchy is very similar to our social hierarchy. The pig would be representative of everything that was bad in the world…”
“…I was having tea with Roger at his house in South London and we were talking about what we were going to do for the album cover. And he wanted to make the pig fly over those two chimneys of the Battersea Power Station we were looking at over his window. So he and I got in a Range Rover, drove down to the station (in those days you could drove anywhere around there, there was no security), we took a lot of black and white photographs that I developed and realised we could definitely make the pig fly between the chimneys. So we brought the pig to England and we did it. There is this famous story that, on the second day we did that, the pig, filled with helium, blew away into the airlines in Heathrow… we nearly caused a disaster!”
“Then, when “Animals” was played in the stadium, Roger developed that idea further by building huge inflatables of a family: he did a man, a woman, children, a car, a fridge, a TV… they all flew above the stage and then the pig came out over the audience. It became a symbol, because pig was also the language of the Sixties and Seventies for the police. On those days, it was a very powerful message.”
In the 1960s-70s, the cultural revolution brought youth to stand up and fight against the Western establishment, represented by America, for a more liberal and peaceful world. The “London swinging” era saw the explosion in the capital of popular music and fashion movement giving voice to new social values. Mayfair was filled by the colours of street style clothing, new boutiques, and by Twiggy’s boyish haircut and heavy eye-lashes, while rock and roll bands started to emerge with strong political lyrics. Pink Floyd were protagonist of this revolution.
Rome, July 2018
And today we get back to that powerful message, using Trump Baby balloon as a provocative criticism against everything that is bad, undemocratic, warmonger, in the world. Roger Waters himself on July 15, 2018 during his concert in Rome made Algie fly over the concert and projected “Trump is a Pig”.
California, October 2016
The former Pink Floyd’s bassist displayed the same strong statement, among other anti-racist and anti-fascist declarations, at the Desert Trip Music Festival in California in 2016.