wtorek, 27 lutego 2018

Recycling street art in the public space of a town

Stanisław Czachorowski (assistance professor at UWM, Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology) – ecologist, hydrobiologist, entomologist, the area of his professional interest includes aquatic insects, in particular caddisflies and dragonflies in inland waters in Central Europe, monitoring of waters, landscape ecology, anthropogenic transformations of the environment and eco-development (sustainable development).

“Recycling street art” denotes reclaiming the city space for local communities and “reclaiming” apparently useless things; it is also an element of social animation, performed in the public space, cyclic meetings in the form of happening and painting on recycled materials (old roof tiles, pottery, tiled stoves, stone, glass bottles and jars). There are no useless things. Or people. There is only excessive and superficial consumption of disposable things. By painting, we bring back long, meaningful life of dignity. To things and people. There are a lot of such useless bottles (and people, surely), rejected and thrown away – behind a fence, behind a border – out of our minds. To separate ourselves from that “dumpsite” with a high wall and barbed wire? And why don’t we, together, having pondered for a while, give up the wasteful culture of disposability and stop devastating the Earth’s resources and the beauty of the natural and cultural landscape? Why don’t we stop throwing things out and replace disposability with a long life cycle... of packaging? Beauty and durability versus tackiness and disposability. Let our lives be long and meaningful. And let others – things and people – live. You will notice neither beauty nor sense when you’re in a hurry all the time.

Street-art happenings make use of useless and unwanted things, sometimes regarded as waste: old roof tiles, glass bottles and jars (spent packaging), field rocks or defective ceramic products (house renovation waste). Joint painting in the public space (parks, squares, libraries, schools, universities, etc.), during scientific conferences, festivals of philosophy, science picnics and “luncheon on the grass” meetings produces small items, subsequently placed in the public space in street exhibitions or as items of street furniture. Used for field games (using QR codes and mobile Internet access) and educational tales of history, nature and landscape transformations. Educational purpose: history of places, history told with things (rocks, roof tiles, jars and bottles), sustainable development, importance of greenery in the city, local biodiversity and wild nature in the city, effects of growing consumption and large amounts of waste on nature, recycling, reusing, upcycling and environment- and landscape-friendly lifestyle, city greenery and the public meeting space, human ecology.

Social objective: integration, way of establishing contacts in the anonymous city, cross-border intercultural dialogue, inter-generation and inter-disciplinary dialogue. Objective related to landscape architecture: minor forms that affect the aesthetics of the cultural landscape, also as an element of thematic walking and recreational routes. Joint painting of bottles, rocks or roof tiles facilitates conversation, like working in the field, stripping feathers or shelling beans in the past. But that village world is no longer here – now we live in the city and we are conceiving life together anew... without borders. This could be street art using trash which is dumped in the forest, in the lake or river and which is then seen as blots on the landscape.

Everyone needs at least some philosophy, knowledge and art. Because everyone needs sense and beauty. Everyone is a creator, even when making a cake or cleaning the house. And at least they want to be creators. We choose simple forms and cheap material, which can be found everywhere. You can talk during the joint painting, but you don’t have to. You don’t have to kill the silence with words. You can stay silent. There are too many words. There is hardly anyone listening. And some words are so sophisticated that even the speaker doesn’t understand them... So silence is a relief. And joint creation of art in the public space is a socially new form of creating a new local community, leaving a trace in the urban landscape.

Joint painting is also a form of disseminating knowledge (e.g. of biology) and permanent and informal education. Knowledge is a common wealth and asset, which is a condition of civilisation development and which should be accessible to everyone. In the same way as the air and water or a beautiful landscape. Access to knowledge cannot therefore be closed and restricted. The same applies to art. Science and art are fascinated by the world, each in its own way and in a different form. The most effective way of absorbing knowledge and art is... by one’s own participation and activity. So let’s paint together, let’s talk (for example, in the library, in the city square, during a scientific conference). Let’s also talk about recycling, consumption and waste that we leave in the landscape, about the local biodiversity (and not on that which we see on TV).

People paint to make the world more beautiful – even though the beauty may be fleeting. We meet people while painting and use this simple activity to bring back sense and meaning to – apparently useless – things. Messages are not communicated only by words. Joint painting is the “slow science” in the country. One of the problems suffered by science – apart from excess waste, that is, empty packages – is an excess of empty work, that is, endeavouring to meet targets, to score points. Sometimes, members of scientific (academic) communities propose to reduce the number of publications – to make them fewer but better (it is not the number, but the quality and profundity of what is published that counts – no one will read excessive content).

I have been painting bottles and jars for a long time. I draw inspiration from the natural beauty of the landscapes of Warmia and Mazury (and in the background: recycling and reusing, meeting people in the new reality and city space, and cittaslow in small towns). I also paint field rocks and old roof tiles. For some people, “the country” or “the backyard” is associated with backwardness and stigmatisation. But for me, it’s a lifestyle associated with local life and the third technological revolution. And you can always find rocks in the backyard. Or bottles. And some jars in an attic and old roof tiles somewhere near the fence.

And I still haven’t had an opportunity to paint a roof tile or a bottle from Malaysia...

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