#26 “The Hoax”

From a stranger in Burlington, Vermont

In its short life thus far, this project has yielded some very unexpected results. But one of the most startling things that I began to notice when this venture first gained a bit of international attention* was the fact that many people seemed to believe that it was some sort of elaborate hoax played on the owner of a post office box in Chattanooga, Tennessee. To be honest, I had never considered that someone might come to this conclusion. All in all, I find the idea brilliant and hilarious, and in some ways, I almost wish that it had been the original plan. I can just picture the poor, befuddled owner of the p.o. box opening its small hinged door only to be inundated with a confusing array of lupine artwork. Can you imagine the look that would no doubt be perched upon the poor soul’s face?

However, there is one small hole in this idea. After actually having discussed this issue with an employee at my local post office, I discovered that no mail would can be received by a  p.o box unless it was specifically addressed to that organization or person. Even if the box number is clearly labeled, it is unlikely that the post office will allow the mail to be received unless the name of the organization is clearly printed on the envelope. So… based on this information, we can assume that if the project was a hoax, it would be extremely unsuccessful, since the butt of the joke would decidedly NOT have a p.o. box labeled “Wolves by Strangers” unless he actually did want to receive wolf pictures.

I say all of this to point out that it has been fascinating to notice the artwork that seems to be inspired by this “hoax” misinterpretation. Take the artwork that is on display today, for instance. In my eyes it is obvious that the “Thank Reddit” comment at the bottom of the picture is meant as a sarcastic jab and that the image of the wolf devouring an infant is meant to be repulsive. After all, if you were NOT expecting to receive a wolf picture in the mail, just imagine how dismayed and revolted you would be to open an envelope and have this gruesome picture greet your eyes.

Obviously, what the artist behind this illustration did not know is that he was playing right into my hand. My only goal for this project was to receive as many wolf illustrations as possible, regardless of the intent of the artist or the subject matter. I appreciate wolves eating children as much as I appreciate wolves prancing in fields of flowers. Truthfully, though, I can’t say that I blame the fellow. If I were in his position, I would probably have done the exact same thing; I’ve been known to love a prank as much as the next guy. So in the end, I suppose I must actually tip my hat to this stranger in Vermont.

Well played, my twisted friend… Well played.

* This was largely achieved through a picture of a flier that was posted on reddit.com on March 11 with the caption of “Dear Reddit, please fill this person’s mailbox with wolves.”


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