Recycled…Reseen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap

“Renowned early-twentieth century anthropologist Michael Leahy encountered a Wabag man from Papua New Guinea wearing an aluminum whole wheat biscuit tin on his head. In the symbol system of this culture, large, bright, and shiny ornaments are connote health, well-being, sexual attractiveness, and the approval of the ancestors.

Centuries earlier, when Cortés and his troops discovered hoards of gold ornaments in Mexico, they confiscated these objects of sacred and royal art for themselves. We can be sure that they did not do this because of their admiration for the workmanship or their desire to appropriate the charisma of Aztec culture. In fact, they showed a hearty disrespect for the value placed on these objects by their previous owners, and in melting them down for coinage; Cortés and his compatriots were simply recycling material from one cultural construct into another. The Aztecs would not have thought this to be an improvement; for one thing, their gold was not discarded trash.

Nevertheless, there are instructive similarities between recycling Aztec gold and recycling industrial trash. When a New Guinean wears a head ornament incorporating a mackerel tin label, and a Maasai uses a blue plastic pen cap in an armband, they are showing a similar unconcern for the meaning of these objects in the source culture. They are deconstructing the objects into elements of form, colour and material and giving them meaning in their own object language. This is intercultural recycling.

Like collage in art or quotation in literature, the recycled object carries a kind of “memory” of its prior existence. Recycling always implies a stance toward time –between the past and the present- and often a prospective on cultures –one’s own and others.”

From the book ‘Recycled, Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap’

PS. I was luck to do my MA internship at Drap-Art (Barcelona) back in 2010. Thanks to Tanja Grass, I learned a lot about the theme and had access to wonderful books like this one.

Exhibition Opening in Barcelona: Fish – O. Buch, X. Moline & P. Elrington (May 21)

Today is the opening of an art exhibition that I helped in organizing as part of my collaboration with Drap Art, an NGO that promotes creative recycling in its many facets since 1995:


Opening, Thursday the 20th of May at 20h.
The exhibition is open to the public from the 21st of May to the 26th of June, 2010

Fish is a collective exhibition that displays works by Orson Buch (Paris, 1967), Ptolemy Elrington (Brighton, 1965) y Xavi Molina (Barcelona, 1963). The exhibition, organized and conceived by Drap-Art, a non-profit organization dedicated since 1995 to promote recycling, brings together an unusual trio of artists whose work is generated from the use of waste materials.
The concept, around which FISH is structured, arises from the fascination with animals, in particular fish that this group of artists and Drap-Art share.
The use of the image of ‘fish’ made by the Drap-Art Association, as a graphic icon of the communication campaigns of the editions of 2007, 2008 and 2009 of the International Recycling Art Festival of Catalonia makes its attraction to this aquatic being obvious. And the individual trajectories of each one of the participating artists reflect the important role they confer to this figure.

Shiny John Dory by Ptolemy Elrington
80 x 70 x 25 cm.
Recycled hubcaps

Exhibition Opening in Barcelona: Zoona – Xavi Molina (Apr 15th)

Today is the opening of an art exhibition that I helped in organizing as part of my collaboration with Drap Art, an NGO that promotes creative recycling in its many facets since 1995:

Xavi Molina, Zoona

Opening on Thursday the 15th of April at 8pm.
Exhibition open to the public from the 16th of April to the 15th of May 2010

Seas of cement, textures resembling the erosion of the Earth, colours of Nature, the blues of the profoundness of the seas, ochre of the soil, … transport us back to remote times, modern Art that takes us to pure nature. New resources of painting that move us towards that which is most primitive.
The works shown in this exhibition are all works of constant artistic investigation that allow us to come to these sensations, to this vision.

Detail of A Penguin in Africa
197 x 130 cm.
M80, natural pigments and oil paint on canvas.