The Future Forest: We’ve Made A Forest Out Of 3 Tons Of Plastic In Mexico City
The people working with collecting our trash, are neither ranked highest on the income scale or in the social pyramid. I believe it’s a shame, because the people who handle our trash, are the heroes that make sure we don’t drown in it, and the ones who ensure we recycle just a fragment of our enormous daily waste.
I believe this is one of the main causes to our planet being completely covered in waste. Because people don’t see where their trash goes and don’t know the people who deal with it – I believe we should celebrate these people, – show how wonderful they are and how much potential and how many wonderful things we can create from our scraps. Because by doing this the children of tomorrow might grow up wanting to work with trash, because they don’t see it as something ugly and smelly, but as something beautiful and valuable.
As an artist this is the main issue I address in all my works – and why I made The Future Forest.
In Mexico City, these Heroes are called the Pepenadores and with the help from them, their children, more than 700 students, an orphanage an elderly home and more than 100 volunteers. We turned 3 tons of plastic waste into a 500m2 colorful plastic forest filled with thousands of flowers, trees and animals.
It took us 8 weeks to collect the trash and build the forest, that now is on display in the botanical garden of Chapultepec where it can be found for the next many months. I left for another project but the local organisation FYJA, who helped realize my dream of a forest made solely from plastic waste, are running workshops where new kids regularly come and build new flowers, plants and animals. This way the forest will keep growing and the message spread even more.
Welcome to the jungle
Here’s a little about me. I have been making, creating, and performing my whole life, had a small graphic design business, was touring with a human beatbox show in Norway, made seven rap albums and played 200 concerts, painted graffiti, and did all kinds of street art, YouTube content and music videos and scenography for TV and theatre, and had a couple of TV shows in Denmark about recycling. But the last ten years, I have been focused on large-scale sculptures and installations made of trash, most noticeably my recycled giant wooden troll sculptures, my recycled interactive happy wall, and my recycled birdhouse street art.
My parents didn’t raise no fool; they taught me recycling was important growing up back in the ’80s. This stuck with me through my graffiti/hip-hop years and has always been my number one topic of interest in all of my creative outlets. My mantra is that “the world does not need to drown in the trash; we can build a bright future for the world if we become masters of recycling” And so I build big projects like the future forest and many others to inspire, teach and show the possibilities hidden in our trash.
This plastic forest is filled with exotic wildlife
It was a project of extremes, one day scavenging plastic at the landfill in the slum, building animals with the local kids in a workshop and same evening showing what we made to the mayor of Mexico City and the rich and famous. Literally, we scavenged these blue plastic bedpans that sick people defecated in at the hospital and turned them into giant flowers. People would come to visit the project and be like, “wow, that’s so beautiful…. but wait, that’s a bedpan,” and that feeling makes you think.
The children loved exploring it
My favorite part was that for an hour and a half, I got to bring the 20 kids to the landfill in downtown Mexico City to see the installation they had helped create. They had never before had the opportunity to go there, but now they were part of this big art installation that thousands of people came to see, and they were so proud and happy. I think it definitely helped educate the children about plastic waste.
Me, standing proudly in front of my work
To see the process of turning waste into the Future Forest, please visit this link.
I’ve also done similar projects before and after that. You can see my Limbo Land, Remake Christmas, or Trolde Folke Fest.
Right now, I’m in Dayton, Ohio, building four new sculptures. I’m also in the process of renovating a farm that I will turn into my new recycle workshop and studio and home, and then I’m making 25 new trolls next year, so busy.
Here’s a video that neatly summarized the whole project
Film by Alexander Kaiser
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