Robert Panda is a Portuguese visual artist who started his path in the graffiti underworld painting around Lisbon's suburbs. His sculptural street installation project entitled “The Stupid People Project”, a philosophical approach to human foolishness, is based on the placement of friendly, stylised anthropomorphic figures crafted from materials such as paper and adhesive tape, fiberglass, or cement in various locations with the intent of surprising and interacting with passers-by. His thought-provoking work has also been presented at a variety of art festivals, events, and exhibitions in Portugal and abroad.

Stupidity is one of the defining traits of the human condition. From simple mental slowness to downright idiocy, the concept can express either a temporary quality or state brought on by certain factors, or a permanent, unresolvable condition. The essence of this project is based on the idea that there is no limit to people's stupidity. Being stupid is stupid. All people are different, yet all people are stupid. And when I say people, I mean everyone. Including myself. It is time for us to embrace this stupidity of ours with open arms.

The origins of this project date back to 2011 when Portugal was hit hard by the sovereign debt crisis and forced to seek out a financial bailout from international institutions with devastating consequences. Wanting to denounce the stupidity of politicians, bureaucrats, financiers and such, I became engaged in a series of street actions such as hanging effigies from bridges and flyovers representing the people responsible for the crisis, which I crudely cast from paper and tape. Yet while reflecting on the nature of this statement I realised that it was misdirected. We were all responsible. We were all equally stupid. I therefore decided to shift the aim of the project in order to highlight this defining trait of ours and began working on a new series of deformed anthropomorphic sculptures with the objective of placing them in stupid situations and contexts.

The first installation was produced for the Azores. It came to life in a landfill located outside the city of Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel. Sitting comfortably and oblivious amidst the piles of rubbish and the encroaching gangs of voracious seagulls, this first piece introducing the Stupid to the world was intended as a critical statement on consumerism and waste, helping people to reflect on the animals we truly are. My original intention was simply to place something that was incongruent and contrasting enough to stand out sharply from its surroundings. Something that was simply stupid.

The following installations were created in more accessible locations and, to my great surprise, I noticed that just like the seagulls had done with the piece in the landfill, people started flocking naturally towards the Stupid. There was an immediate, instinctive attraction. This unforeseen interplay ended up turning the whole installation into a performative action where the inanimate yet friendly the Stupid acts as a catalyst for human interaction. What started out as the search for a nice photo op ended up evolving into a live performance on our human nature stupidity, which I like to observe and record. Being stupid is stupid, yet it can also be interesting. And fun.


The Stupid People Project is based on the idea of interaction. That, and getting nice photos for my collection. I especially like photos of people taking photos. If they're selfies, even better. Nothing defines stupid like taking a selfie while talking to an inanimate colourful object. And most of all by how they react in their presence. It's as if there was some greater force at work here, making reasoning adults actively embrace the child they carry within. Children are especially attracted to them, but then again, being actual children that's what you would expect. Yet adults also become born-again children, a transformation that can be quite magical to observe.

The objective is to let these peaceful creatures hang out with people in their natural habitats, stimulating an active interplay between them. I view this as providing the public with an unexpected, catalysing element that creates a living picture, a type of impromptu performance with unwitting participants guided by impulse and chance.

Stupid is always Stupid. A chameleon-like figure that takes on different colours and postures according to the location and his state of mind. Each colour might express a different mood. Some people give him a personal name, but to me he will always be Stupid. The one and only.