In the hands of artists, smog, landfill and sewage become beautiful, witty and challenging statements. Emma Critchley meets the artists making us face up to the crisis of filth.
In the hands of artists, smog, landfill and sewage become beautiful, witty and challenging statements.
As the scale of pollution intensifies, Emma meets the artists who are finding original and compelling ways to make us understand and feel the crisis of filth.
Zack Denfeld and Cat Kramer harvest air pollution in cities around the world, whipping up egg whites on street corners. They bake them into meringues and hand them out to the public who can’t help but react to eating the city’s pollutants.
Mexican collective Tres guide Emma through their studio, piled high with collected rubbish: they’ve filled a gallery with 300,000 stinking cigarette butts, taken over the streets to preserve fossilized chewing gum and crawled for months on Australian beaches filtering through marine plastic.
Nut Brother has courted controversy with his performance of dragging 10,000 bottles of polluted water from Shaanxi to Beijing while John Sabraw wades through Ohio’s filthy streams, capturing iron oxide from unsealed mines and turning sludge into glorious paints.
Emma delves through rails of Kasia Molga’s costumes which glow red in response to carbon, she listens to an orchestra of Lucy Sabin’s breath and takes us down under the River Thames to meet her collaborator Lee Berwick: they're working on an installation about underwater sound pollution, experimenting with sounds in the Greenwich foot tunnel for an installation opening in March.
These provocative and entertaining artists discuss the relationship between art and activism, taking us beyond the facts and figures to face head on and experience the contamination we are inflicting on the planet.
Producer: Sarah Bowen