Abigail Rowe already had a sofa, her hand down from her ex-boyfriend’s brother. Like most of her furniture, it was free and utilitarian, a place for a more stylish piece to buy.
But one day she arrived earlier than she expected. In 2018, Mrs. Rowe was going through the “free stuff” section of Craigslist when she saw the perfect couch: a bulging pink love seat in the shape of a pig.
The upholstery was shiny, almost smooth, as if the pig had gently refused any attempt to sit on it. His eyes were empty and slightly lowered. His tail, a slightly untangled yarn protruding from his hind legs, seemed like an idea compared to his carefully carved hooves.
“The pig is distinctive and a bit oppressed,” said Mrs. Rowe, 25. “It looks nice.”
The person who posted the entry on the couch claimed to be a furniture artist named Andrew, who was cleaning up the space in his studio. The ad said it would give the pig couch away to anyone who could explain in detail what it meant to them.
Mrs. Rowe responded to the contribution of the poems. When Andrew did not answer immediately, she began to doubt his intentions. A search for a retrospective image showed that her concerns were based: Here was an ad from 2016 claiming that the couch was available in Nashville; another suggested that the pork couch could be picked up in Boca Raton, Florida.
Finally, Andrew sent the message back and said he was ready. The woman he met on OkCupid posted an ad and gave her phone number after she got angry when she learned that Andrew was not vegan, Mrs. Rowe said in reports to The New York Times.
Mrs. Rowe succumbed to a recurring Craigslist scam. For at least five years, people on this site have claimed to sell or distribute this particular pork couch, according to old lists discovered by Ms. Rowe. It is not clear whether any of the posters benefited from the business or whether it is simply dedicated to a carefree work of art. (Some of the ads were posted on April 1.)
The pork sofa reappeared on Tuesday, this time in New York. “Unique pork couch,” Craigslist post read. “I’m selling it for $ 250, even though my friend and I bought it for more than $ 11,000. And it’s in its original condition.” I need someone to pick it up as soon as possible, because my new friend hates it, and unfortunately it can’t be negotiated for him. “
The person behind the New York list, Marisol Martinez, has a history of benevolent trolling on Craigslist.
In 2011 or 2012 – Ms. Martinez couldn’t remember – she was frustrated by commuting from Manhattan to Brooklyn and published an ad asking someone to take her by boat across the East River. She didn’t stick to the schedule, she said in advertising, and the rides had to be free. Some conversation topics would be limited. Some people responded angrily, calling her arrogant. Others wrote her poetry. Some asked if she could refuel.
“It proves the absurdity of a city that has so many strange people,” Ms. Martinez said. “It was a good start to understanding that you can ask for things and get them into town.” And people will bother you too. “
She moved on to other hilarious posts. In one, she posed like a snail upgrading to a larger shell and trying to rent the old one. (“It’s perfect for a teenage snail who wants to expand its living space and avoid predators. You’ll love rare spiral spirals, steep shutters, and funky asymmetrical left-hand rings.”) In another, she advertised her services as a “Fragmented Consciousness Technician.” offering to repair broken human brains.
“I think I’m, by some definition, a fraud,” Ms. Martinez said. “I published something that was not true.”
She bumped into a pig couch while helping a friend find a statement on the couch online, and was immediately attracted to its “disturbing structure” and melancholy face. “I think a couch with a face is biologically probably something we’re more likely to look at,” Ms. Martinez said.
She didn’t try to steal anyone’s money by posting a fake ad. Instead, she hoped to lift the spirits of her New Yorkers during the boiling collective nightmare of 2020.
“I thought I would create a semi-trusted but sharing or interesting post to please people with the strangeness of the city,” said Ms. Martinez. “I definitely don’t want to take anyone’s money or waste the time of someone out here trying to buy a couch.”
Her contribution caught the attention of Mrs. Rowe, who became interested in cataloging pig columns. It also attracted the attention of the creator of the pork couch itself – 31-year-old Pavie Burroughs fiber artist from Philadelphia.
First, Mrs. Burroughs would like the world to know it’s a chair, not a couch.
It is called “Hillhock”, a portmanteau of “hill”, a small hill that can be sat on, and “ham hamck”, pork. It is hand-sewn from velvet and satin and filled with foam, making it surprisingly light despite its volume.
It was originally part of the living room – including a rug, side table and lamp – that Mrs. Burroughs introduced as part of her sculptural work in 2011. The carpet made of paper was supposed to look like dirt, with paper flowers, myrtle and blood root growing on them. Hillhock. The side table had a fiber structure protruding from one side. The lamp was a normal lamp.
Mrs. Burroughs was inspired by the painting in “Masquerade,” a picture book by Kit Williams, which she deepened as a child. One page shows an elderly man sitting on a pig playing the violin, with a pig shedding tears from one of his eyes.
Mrs. Burroughs exposed the chair and then tried to sell it. It did not get many recipients, so it reduced the price. Several blogs about furniture have published photos of her work.
“Strangely, it had a first life spreading viruses when blogs laughed at it,” she said. “When I finally sold it, it got into the strange faith of people pretending to sell it.”
Hillhock’s latest public list valued it at $ 950, but Mrs. Burroughs said she remembered it was exchanged for about $ 500. According to her memory, the buyer was named Matt or Mike and looked like a merchant. He was driving from Maryland to take a chair she had left in her room, which she used as a dirty laundry store.
Almost ten years later, Mrs. Burroughs is still doing art. It can be a bit frustrating, but most of all funny, that such an old work has become her most famous work.
“The pig couch now belongs to the Internet.” It’s bigger than me, I have no property, “said Mrs. Burroughs. “Were any of Craigslist’s contributions real?” Is it actually traveling around the country? “
It turns out that Hillhock is still in Maryland. The buyer, a cyber security executive named Martin Roesch, took the pig sofa straight from Philadelphia to the offices of his start-up, Sourcefire. Mr. Roesch’s company created software called Snort, which sniffed packets of Internet traffic to detect threats, and its mascot was a pig.
“The thing was a supercool and I said, ‘God, I have to have it,'” Mr. Roesch said. “He has such a deserted look on his face, I think because of his eyes.” I think it’s cute more than sad. ” When he installed a chair in his office, his employees were in captivity.
In 2013, Sourcefire acquired Cisco and Hillhock moved with the company to Cisco’s Maryland office, where the chair ended up in a boardroom, Mr Roesch said. “I think it became more of a conversation at the time, even though I sometimes saw people sitting on it,” he said.
Roesch left Cisco last year, saying part remains “lent” to his former employer. Since his last turn as a viral sensation, Mr. Roesch has received several offers to buy a couch. He is considering them.