Waste Lights Waste World
There are artists who work with plastic found in the sea. They search the waters with nets and baskets and proceed to create aesthetic collages with their findings. There are designers who create chairs by melting festival cups and discarded toys, or make tables by using scrap pieces of wood. More recently, Amsterdam’s Urban Waste Collective – five artists from various disciplines including architecture, interior and film – have created a globe by installing thousands of LED lights onto thousands of empty cans. The lights are powered by the energy that’s left over in used batteries; batteries are never completely empty when you discard them at designated collection points.
Just like the sea plastic collages and the tables made of wood scraps, this artwork draws attention to the problems we prefer not to talk about; waste surplus and environmental issues are subjects that put a damper on things at even the best parties.
Urban Waste Collective uses the work to refer to the themes of surplus and reuse in various ways. Not only is the globe made up of empty cans fed with leftover energy, the structure was built by those with time to spare, like the unemployed, volunteers and students. The artwork is the result of the joining of forces: a collective project in the public space that is the result of the contributions of others. According to the collective, everyone plays an equally important role. And it’s for that reason that all the countries and continents on the globe light up in the same color.
No, idealism cannot be ignored. Nor can the trust in people who not only inhabit and pollute the earth, but who are also able to patch it back up and scrub it clean – only if they want and feel the need to. In the near future, excess plastic may be the best raw material. Illustrate this idea and translate it into something beautiful or functional instead of only suggesting it and you might make a difference.
That is also the power of this globe: it radiates the idea that reusing the earth can light it back up. At Repair Café, around the corner, they have known that for quite some time. So fill your pockets with used batteries like they’re diamonds and take them to the Urban Waste Collective. Because done doesn’t exist. At least this is something you can take to a party.