When artists are using the pollution for inspiration in Beijing

A Chinese artist turned Beijing dust pollution into a brick.

This is not a rumor: pollution in China, and particularly in Beijing, is becoming even worse than beliefs. Residents of the huge city try to escape the smog, a cloud of heavy and really harmful pollution, which is hovering the urban area. An artist, nicknamed “Nut Brother” and armed with a vacuum cleaner, has exposed himself to the harmful vapors during 100 days, four hours per day.

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Beijing Art Beijing Artist  Beijing pollution

As weird as it may seem, his project is for the common good: how to show, in a relevant way, how bad this sadly famous heavy fog is, by shifting all the dust he can possibly collect into a brick.

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This project was announced by the artist in late July. Nut Brother is from Shenzen and after living in Beijing for years, he has decided to show the pollution in this city by vacuum the dust. For that, he has walked every day in Beijing’s streets with little equipment – like wearing a respirator mask from time to time – and has collected dust.

A hundred days later, on November 30, he gathered the collected dust with other materials such as clay and brought it to a brick industrial unit to produce a brick. The process was first semi-finished in the factory; he then finished the work by drying it and firing it up to make the brick.

His project was born in 2013: Nut Brother had decided to alert the world and to make people react by showing what they breathe day after day. His aim is to highlight essential environmental protection and also to bring to light a precious and old relationship between nature and human.

His walks conducted him from Tiananmen Square to the headquarters of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, to the Bird’s Nest national stadium, where he was taken for a simple “air cleaner” or an “air monitoring person” most of the time. During this work, he posted every day all the information about his activity on his Weibo account: date, vacuumed area of the day, weather and some pictures taken by passers-by.

This work became famous in China easily and quickly, but many people are wondering if the project is real and if the brick is actually formed of pollution dust.

Indeed, some Weibo users have mentioned that it is impossible: to be achieved, a brick would needs to consist of PM 250, the fine particular matter in the air, instead of PM 2.5.

Apparently, the total weight of dust and smog which were collected was about 100 grams, whereas the added clay weighed several kilograms, which is not a lot more than what is used for a common brick. In the end, Nut Brother declared he was not doing a scientific research and that his project was purely a symbol.

He would now like to donate this special brick to a construction site, so it becomes a part of this urban jungle and not just so “dust returns to dust” but so it contributes to the evolution of consciousness about environmental protection.


Further reading about Beijing here

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