On Oct. 25 at dawn, Peter Hindel discovered an eight-foot tall Lego man clad in a shirt that read: “No real than you are,” on one of his early morning walks.
“My first thought was that it was a manatee or something because this thing was probably about eight feet long – it was pretty large, you couldn’t miss it,” Hindel said. “So I went over and looked at it and realized what it was, and kind of got a laugh out of it.”
After Hindel dragged the 100-lb fiberglass man out of shallow, salty surf, people flocked to it. “It brought a lot of smiles to people’s faces and even some children started showing up and standing next to him to get their pictures taken,” Hindel said. “I think the fact that it was a big mystery entertained a lot of people.
“Only one older lady said to me, ‘When you gonna move it?’” he recalled, laughing. “I said, “Well, what do you mean?” She said it was a real eyesore and that it was blocking the view … it just shows that you can’t please everybody.”
The Lego man’s message, “No real than you are,” left some puzzled, according to Hindel.
“You know, I think that just about everyone that came by and talked to me didn’t seem to know what it meant,” Hindel said. “It seems like there should be a word missing.”
“I think it definitely makes you question reality,” thesis student Daniela Rizzo said about the phrase. “You know, more real than you. But, then again, he is a real Lego man. It definitely poses a question about reality and who you are.”
At 11 a.m. on the same day, a beach patrol truck uprooted the Lego man and brought him to an undisclosed location, where he is under police custody until someone claims him. That person will likely be Dutch artist L. Keer, who owns egoleonard.fr, a website that introduces the Lego man as “Ego Leonard.” The welcome page of the website says that Leonard is from a virtual world that “represents happiness, solidarity, all green and blossoming, with no rules or limitations.” It is further written that Leonard bemoans the greed and power-hungriness that has taken over his virtual world and desires to learn about the “real” world. The website has a section where people can write to Ego Leonard – some ask him to visit their hometown, while others just mention their appreciation for Keer’s quirky publicity stunts.
There is doubt that Leonard’s appearances are maneuvered by Keer purely out of a desire to make people smile. In Britain, a Lego man washed ashore before an Ego art exhibit and Keer is participating in the Sarasota chalk festival this year. He plans to draw a chalk mural with Lego men. According to the Sarasota-Herald Tribune, it is likely that Keer uses these stunts to win publicity for his art exhibits and to sell Ego Leonard shirts online.
“That kind of ruins it,” Rizzo said. “I thought it was this cool, random thing that happened. You know, close to New College. But now, it’s like, I’m definitely questioning the purpose of why he did this and that just kind of sucks.”
Rizzo had visions of the New College community buying Leonard if no one claimed him. She said she thought that students could place him smack dab in the middle of campus in Z Green or by the bay.
The story of Ego Leonard has been covered by local, national and international news services over the past few days – proof that everyone desires an inexplicable, nearly magical event to break up their mundane reality.
Information for the is article was taken from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.