Canadian Artist Von Wong Is Making Sustainability Cool
Art is communication; it allows people from all across the globe to communicate with each other via images, sounds, and stories, shaping the lives and opinions of individuals whose paths may never cross. Art, as well, is a powerful tool for social change, making a statement that rouses emotions and rallies cries for change in those who encounter it.
Canadian artist Benjamin Von Wong, an activist who is always looking for unique ways to bring attention to traditionally “boring” topics, has become known for creating shocking and awe-inspiring art installations. His work has been featured in magazines and digital publications and has set records for most materials used to create his installations.
“The art I create is made from materials that are locally and readily available,” the artist explained. “Waste is, unfortunately, everywhere. I think that allowing people to see objects they recognize from everyday use in such vast quantities shifts their perspective of the problem and challenges them to think of how they might get involved.”
Von Wong’s art makes an impact while offering unique opportunities for partnership and promotion, and the artist is always looking for sponsors to drive future campaigns.
In 2021, Von Wong partnered with the Embassy of Canada in France to create a three-story-tall structure called The Giant Plastic Tap (#TurnOffThePlasticTap), a giant faucet leaking plastics into different settings, raising awareness of the dangers of plastic overconsumption.
In a case study introducing this installation and its inspiration, Von Wong said: “I’ve created campaigns from 168,000 plastic straws, 18,000 plastic cups, and 10,000 plastic bottles. But those projects only raised awareness for individual objects and never pointed to the root cause of the problem: Plastic production. This was my chance to create more than a piece of art,” the artist shared. “It was my chance to create a symbol inviting the world to #TurnOffThePlasticTap.”
A PLASTIC TAKEOVER
This December, Von Wong’s Giant Plastic Tap is making its way to Toronto, settling into the new immersive exhibit, Arcadia Earth. Described as a multi-sensory journey and a captivating blend of artistic installations and cutting-edge technology, Arcadia Earth uses educational content and the power of art to create experiences that inspire action. Committed to sustainability, Arcadia Earth’s exhibits utilize materials that are responsibly sourced and upcycled from waste whenever possible.
“I think that there is a huge need to ‘make sustainability cool,’ and Arcadia Earth does a wonderful job of drawing people who are not necessarily environmentalists into a brand-new space of awe and wonder,” explained Von Wong. “My hope with this piece is to create something that is not only striking to those who experience the space but also for them to feel inspired to take a photo and share it with others.”
Along with the Giant Plastic Tap, Arcadia Earth will also feature Von Wong’s E-Waste Generator, a new powerful installation exhibiting the vast amount of electronic waste that is generated every day. Using thousands of pounds of recycled e-waste provided by Uni-Recycle, Von Wong and his team created an incredible “throne” that audiences can sit on and learn about the Right to Repair.
In Arcadia Earth’s Summary Room, visitors will calculate their carbon footprint on displays as they dig deeper into the lessons shared in each room. The Giant Plastic Tap will be the centrepiece, as it represents hope towards getting plastic production back under control and represents the significant step made by 175 nations in early 2022 toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from plastic production, use, and disposal. Visitors will also discover a curated selection of innovative, eco-friendly products, offering alternatives to conventional purchases and contributing to protecting our planet.
“I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can to make the world a better place,” said Von Wong. “I'm an artist, so I do it through art. Others do it through policy, diplomacy, corporate activism, purchase decisions…the list goes on. Alone, art doesn't do anything but paired with a movement, it can be quite powerful.”
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