Exhibition combats our ‘throw-away culture’

15 December 2018
Exhibition combats our ‘throw-away culture’

An exhibition opens today in Yangon that seeks to opens people’s eyes to the possibility of recycling to combat the tendency to throw away products and buy new ones.

The organizers say visitors will see a fascinating collection of “upcycled” objects from international and Myanmar designers at Pure Gold, a global design exhibition opening 15 December at the Secretariat Yangon.

Rather than simply recycling, the stress is on “upcycling” – improvement and embellishment.

Set to strengthen the upcycling movement in Myanmar, Pure Gold runs from 15 December to 6 January 2019, daily from 10:30am to 4:30pm. The exhibition is open to the public, free-of-charge.

Lead curator Volker Albus said, “Upcycling finds a natural home in Myanmar where many people are already transforming trash into useful beautiful objects. We’ve seen a children’s playground built entirely out of old tires, deco-lamps from beer bottles, shopping baskets from candy wrappers, and many more remarkable creations that show the ingenuity of the local people.”

Pure Gold visitors can view 76 unique exhibits from 53 designers from all over the world, alongside works of Myanmar artists, artisans and designers. They will also have a chance to take part in live upcycling demonstrations, workshops, and an interactive public art.

From decorative sculptures out of discarded industrial materials to a shelf made of old water heaters, Pure Gold showcases the diverse culture and creativity of the designers in turning every day waste products.

Old clothes, worn out tires, burst tubes, plastic bags, empty bottles, broken tiles, broken furniture, read books, stained and cracked glasses, food cans, storage cartons, and even egg shells are among the waste items that have found new life.

“When I first saw the exhibits, all I can say is ‘Wow so awesome!’ Every piece is useful and beautiful,” said Myanmar artist Arker Kyaw.

Known for his thought-provoking graffiti and public art, Arker Kyaw is leading one of the highlights of Pure Gold Myanmar – a giant ‘nagar’ installation made of bamboo sticks, reused rice sacks, and plastic sheets.

The nagar, which measures 115 metres (377 ft) from head to tail, will be seen winding its way in and out of the exhibition halls; all the way down the majestic wrought-iron staircase at the west wing entrance of The Secretariat.

“In our Myanmar folklore, the nagar is a snake dragon-like being with super powers. With this public art, we want to capture the imagination of the people and inspire them to upcycle rubbish,” he added.

Joining Arker Kyaw at the Pure Gold workshops are artists Yadanar Win, Aung Myat Htay, Zun Ei, Ma Ei, Ko Latt, Ko Ye, Nge Nge, Kaung Myat Thu, Thiri Wai Maung, Pau San, Sen Sen, Suan Huai, Aye Lwin, Nang Hseng Noon, and Sai Puen Kur.

Yangon is the fourth station of the world-touring Pure Gold exhibition, after Hamburg, London and Bangkok. Launched in September last year, Pure Gold will travel for 10 years, displaying and discussing its upcycling exhibits in museums and galleries around the world.

Pure Gold has been curated and created by ifa, the German Institute for International Relations. In Myanmar, the exhibition is being organised by the Goethe-Institut in cooperation with Hla Day and Chu Chu.

Franz Xaver Augustin, Director of the Goethe-Institut Myanmar said the most important aspect of Pure Gold is the addition of new works by Myanmar artists. There will be upcycling workshops on December 16-19, under the guidance of Prof. Axel Kufus from the Berlin University of the Arts, with support from the artisans and designers of Chu Chu and Hla Day.

“We would like to invite artists from Myanmar who are interested in upcycling waste into special pieces of art or useful items. The workshops serve as a lab within the exhibition where we hope to see new creations added to this extraordinary collection,” he said.

The workshops aim to generate short “How-To-Cycle-Up” clips, also called Instructables, that will show how upcycling can be simple and fun,spark new ideas and inspire individual action.