How green was my artwork?

By Ewa Manthey Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-13 18:20:03

If you have ever wondered how trash can be transformed into art, then a visit to the city's now annual Eco-Art exhibition should prove instructive.

Eco-Art, now in its fourth year, is organized by Touchmedia, a Shanghai-based media company that promotes its clients using interactive touchscreens in taxis. Over 200 works submitted to Eco-Art, from local and international artists, will be displayed at Yue Da 889 Plaza for two weeks from August 15 to August 29. All of the artworks fall into the categories of photography, painting, video, music or fashion and have been made from discarded and eco-friendly materials.

Chakra (Wheels) by Sonalika Jain, the winning entry at this year's Eco-Art competition
Chakra (Wheels) by Sonalika Jain, the winning entry at this year's Eco-Art competition

Interactive game

To encourage social responsibility in citizens, the event organizers created an interactive game on its taxi screens whereby passengers are required to sort a virtual conveyor belt of "garbage" into wet or dry refuse bins.

"The aim of Eco-Art is to make people realize that each individual is responsible in some way for environmental protection," said Nancy Pon, director and general manager at Touchmedia. "It's intended to spark people's awareness of our logo - 'reduce, reuse and recycle.'"

For the competition, participants were asked to create anything connected with the theme of environmental protection. "We encourage people to use materials that they could find in their offices, schools and homes," Pon said. Eco-Art organizers hope that using trash to create artworks will help citizens become more aware of the garbage they generate.

The voting system comprises a judging panel of creative professionals. The panel chose four "finalists" whose works were then later displayed on the city's taxi screens so that the public could decide the eventual winner. The first prize winner received 6,000 yuan ($944) in cash.

The winner of this year's Eco-Art competition was Sonalika Jain, a Shanghai-based visual arts student from India. Her work, entitled Chakra (Wheels) was created using old magazines. Jain was inspired by yoga positions and the Indian belief that the body is made up of spiritual centers known as "wheels."

She said she decided to take part in the contest after her art teachers inspired her to broaden her abilities by working with diverse media. They also stressed the importance of contributing to a good cause.

"I named it Chakra because it links with the yogic belief that the human body is composed of seven essential energy centers called 'chakras' symbolized by the spiral-like parts of my sculpture. Theses chakras can be looked at from different angles - recycling, yoga, culture and media," she said. "I hope to inspire budding artists to give their work a multi-thematic perspective with an overall universal meaning."

Yang Yan, a teacher from Shanghai, has taken part in the Eco-Art competition every year since its inception in 2009 and has, remarkably, landed second place every time. "I find my childhood memories or my past in things like my old clothes and metal toy boxes. These are different to kitchen garbage in that they can be collected and recycled," she said. "Eco-Art aroused my interest to make a difference with the waste created in my daily life. Turning trash into art also enriches my personal life."

Big-Mouth Vase by Yang Yan
Photos: Courtesy of the event organizers
Big-Mouth Vase by Yang Yan Photos: Courtesy of the event organizers

A hole in my shoe

Yang's work this year, entitled Big-Mouth Vase, is made out of a canvas shoe, beads and a glass bottle. "I had a pair of peach canvas shoes which I liked a lot but couldn't use anymore as they had holes in them," Yang said. "Every time I cleaned out my shoe cabinet, I couldn't wear myself to throwing them away so I found a way to incorporate them into a piece of artwork. A hole in the shoe became a smiley face, decorated with an empty bottle and colorful fake flowers that I made myself. And now Big-Mouth Vase adorns my desk."

Some of the international names that will be displayed at this year's exhibition include Ha Schult from Germany, Leo Sewell from the US and Ann Ellis from UK.

Schult is famous for his army of one thousand life-sized Trash People (the name of the work) that he has installed around the world since 1996. The pieces are made from crushed cans, obsolete machinery and other rubbish and represents a critical commentary on constant human consumption. The work has been displayed around the world, including at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt (2002), in Antarctica (2008) and at the Great Wall of China (2001), as a reminder for people to reduce waste.

"Everyone can be an artist. Nothing is impossible. Don't look down upon the garbage around you. It can become your treasure!" said Yang.

The Eco-Art exhibition will travel to Hong Kong as the next stop.

Another  prize-winning artwork The Reborn B
Another prize-winning artwork The Reborn B 

Dates: August 15 to 29, 10 am to 10 pm

Venue: Yue Da 889 Plaza


Address: 889 Wanhangdu Road


Admission: Free

Call 6087-1518 for details

Posted in: Metro Shanghai

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