John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Cost of entry to this unusual Swiss show: One plastic sack (seriously).
That's because the museum is celebrating this commonplace form of conveyance with a full-on artistic extravaganza. "Oh, Plastiksack!," the vaguely Christmassy-sounding title of the bag exhibit, runs until October at the Gewerbemuseum, located in Winthertur about a half-hour's drive northeast of Zurich. During its first few opening days, the museum swapped free admissions for nearly 5,000 plastic bags, which it will turn in for safe disposal.
Luz Interruptus, the light artists who created those glowing water fountains in Madrid, kicked off the festivities by filling two truck-sized waste containers with puffed-up, illuminated plastic sacks. The effect was like looking at a pile of radioactive gumballs, a pleasant, lip-licking visage undercut by the material's known suffocating effect on marine life. (Many more photos at L.I.'s website.) Over the coming weeks, the art collective hopes that "Plastic Garbage Guarding the Museum" will become a truly unpleasant sight to behold:
The first few days of the installation were the most striking and spectacular, with all the bags perfectly placed and filled with air. After a few weeks the display was no longer as pleasing to the eye and surely after 4 months it will look truly decrepit.
This, far from worrying us, helps us to make sense of an installation which you can experience, in a visual manner, the reality of plastic bags, objects generally created with the purpose of inviting consumption and building an image that speaks positively about the brand, but that once used, if not carefully recycled, they become very damaging and impossible to remove from the environment.
The exhibit features 30-something artists interpreting the humble bag in unnatural, funny or menacing ways. Here are a few of the other more visually grabby artworks in the exhibit:
Various artists. That attractive pink bear rug is by Anne-Cécile Rappa. (Photo by Michael Lio)
"Superdeath" by Torsten Mühlbach.
An ethereal garden of... ghosts? Neurons? By Claudia Borgna. (Photo by Michael Lio)
"Untitled," by Dodi Reifenberg.
"ALDIPLUSLIDL" by Iskender Yediler.
Installation by Nils Völker. (Photo by Michael Lio)