Greeting people outside the public assistance office on W. 125th Street, a man dressed in panda outfit and boxing gloves invites passerby to punch him. Nate Hill calls his artistic experiment “community service and social outreach” meant to give people an outlet for their frustrations.
Hill, who lives in East Harlem, started his “Punch Me Panda” experiment about a month ago and has so far taken punches in Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Park Slope, Williamsburg and Bushwick. Hill announces his weekly trips on Twitter, where he also invites people to request house calls.
“When I came to the off-track betting location, all the staff came out and got all their frustrations out on me because they were under the threat of layoffs,” says Hill.
“I tried going the traditional route of getting into a gallery but that just didn’t work for me,” says Hill. “So I just decided to help people one by one.”
Hill plans to continue his experiment for six months to a year.