Sociologists have floated several theories for why we litter and generally refuse to recycle: Maybe it’s because we view certain things used as inherently useless, as a recent University of Alberta study suggests, or perhaps it’s our inability to deal with the concept of death, as New York City sanitation anthropologist Robin Nagle argues. Either way, we’re dealing with cognitive dissonance on a mass level. So how can we break the pattern? How do we stop thinking about waste as something to be kept far from the public eye—and discourse?
Three Berlin street artists armed with rolls of saran wrap may have an answer. Since 2011, German art collective Bosso Fataka has been taking pieces of found street trash and hoisting them into elaborate sculptures suspended in plastic. Once, Bosso Fataka found the hull of an old car and managed to suspend it between two five-foot walls using 70 rolls of cling wrap. Other projects have featured old mattresses bound to big gates and shopping carts barnacled to trees. Some of their installations include living, breathing, human beings, wrapped in plastic.
"If you walk with open eyes through the streets, it’s frightening how much waste is produced in our society," the group explains to Co.Exist in an email. "We started to put the waste into a new context, in which the usual ugly trash appears in a new, for most people, more attractive light. This points out the problem of waste production in our society, and on the other hand the simplicity of doing art."
The members of Bosso Fataka say they find their inspiration on the Berlin streets. Still, using 15 to 20 rolls of cling wrap per sculpture doesn’t quite register as ecologically sound. Bosso Fataka doesn’t mind, though—when they gets into arguments with critics, the group just tries to convince them to come over to the plastic-wrapped side. "We can do small things with a few cling wraps, but if we want to bring whole cars to float we need much more," they write.
At the end of a Bosso Fataka piece’s life cycle, it’s usually garbage crews that come to dismantle the art, or vandals. "But that’s fine with us," Bosso Fataka writes. "It’s part of the game, construction-deconstruction in a never-ending circle."
Regardless, Bosso Fataka’s work is one of the more technologically impressive and hilarious intrusions of the imagination onto urban spaces that we’ve seen. Check out more photos of their "urban intervention" efforts, including their most recent "make love not war" installation, in the slide show above.