Trash, garbage, rubbish and art hardly belong in the same sentence. Unless, of course, when it is hard to distinguish what is artwork and what is trash, and not metaphorical trash but, well, just garbage, artfully arranged or packaged in trash bags. Like in Garbage Bin Is Full Of It or in I Love Onion.
However, sometimes, very real rubbish can be turned into a very real artwork.
French artist Bernard Pras, for instance, uses a technique known as anamorphosis, the art of sticking objects on a canvas to give the work texture and dimension. Pras uses only found objects in his creations and literally turns trash into treasure.
Two posts back, in Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein! I used Bernard Pras’ work Einstein as illustration.
Dali by Bernard Pras.
- Bernard Pras. A portrait of Malian actor Sotigui Kouyaté
His latest piece, a portrait of Malian actor Sotigui Kouyaté, is comprised of numerous objects including clothes, paint, wood, rubber, and other objects found or scavenged around the installation site. Only when viewed through the lens of his camera is the image clearly visible.
This is how it was made:
Bernard Pras. Look closely at his art and you’ll find everything from toilet paper and soda cans to slinkies and bird feathers. Pras often reinterprets famous photos and paintings — such as Hokusai’s famous woodcut “The Great Wave,” which this piece re-imagines — through his art of upcycled anamorphosis.
The artwork of Nele Azevedo is both conceptual and… easily biodegradable.
Visual artist Nele Azevedo works with video, installation and urban interventions, but she’s best known for her “Melting Men” interventions that she stages in cities across the globe. Azevedo carves thousands of small figures and places them on city’s monuments where audiences congregate to watch them melt. Her ice sculptures are meant to question the role of monuments in cities, but Azevedo says she’s glad her art can also “speak of urgent matters that threaten our existence on this planet.” Although she says she’s not a climate activist, in 2009 Azevedo teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to place 1,000 of her ice figures on steps in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt Square to show the effects of climate change. The installation was timed to correspond with the release of the WWF’s report on Arctic warming.
- Sayaka Ganz.
Sayaka Ganz says she was inspired by Japanese Shinto beliefs that all objects have spirits and those that are thrown out “weep at night inside the trash bin.” With this vivid image in her mind, she began collecting discarded materials — kitchen utensils, sunglasses, appliances, toys, etc. — and upcycling them into works of art. When creating her unique sculptures, Ganz sorts her objects into color groups, constructs a wire frame, and then meticulously attaches every object to the frame until she creates the shape she’s envisioned, which is typically an animal. This one is called “Emergence.”
Ganz has this to say about her art: “My goal is for each object to transcend its origins by being integrated into the form of an animal or some other organism that seems alive and in motion. This process of reclamation and regeneration is liberating to me as an artist.”
Israeli artist Uri Eliaz isn’t just a sculptor who turns trash into art — he’s also a painter who foregoes the typical, pricey canvasses that many artists use. Instead, Eilaz paints on delivery bags, old doors and even large canister lids.
Uri Eliaz created numerous quirky sculptures from objects he found exclusively in the ocean.
Agnes Denes used field and soil as canvas for her Wheatfield – A Confrontation… exhibition? Installation?
One of the pioneers of environmental art and conceptual art, Agnes Denes is best known for her land art project, “Wheatfield – A Confrontation.” In May 1982, Denes planted a two-acre wheat field in Manhattan on Battery Park Landfill, just two blocks from Wall Street. The land was cleared of rocks and garbage by hand, and 200 truckloads of dirt were brought in. Denes maintained the field for four months until the crop was harvested, yielding more than 1,000 pounds of wheat. The harvested grain then traveled to 28 cities across the globe in an exhibition called “The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger,” and the seeds were planted worldwide.
Planting wheat across from the Statue of Liberty on urban land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox that Denes hoped would call attention to our misplaced priorities. She says her works are “intended to help the environment and benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy.”