LOS ANGELES — That Chinese cities are incredibly polluted is a fact that any visitor to the country must accept. From dead pigs in the water to brown in the skies, pollution is both backdrop and foreground to contemporary Chinese life. However, some of the dangers vanish before us in the haze.
According to China Daily, a government paper, over 200 lakes have vanished in the past few decades. Some of this has been due to drought and some due to eutrophication, a technical term referring to the introduction of outside elements, like sewage. In either case, it just means more bad news for the ecosystem.
Installed in Beijing’s Sanlitun and 798 neighborhoods, “The Lost Lakes” consisted of mirrors representing the missing lakes. These large scale installations presented Beijing shoppers and art-goers (the two neighborhoods are a mall and gallery district, respectively) with a suggestion of lakes that are so rarely found in the city. They’re the work of Grey Group China, and they can be re-installed in other locations. According to Design Boom:
… the artwork helped people to slow down and take a moment to appreciate the beauty reflected by these lakes. each venue featured customized mirrors, the largest at 20m x 10m. fifteen skilled craftsmen worked over six weeks to create the curving structures. built to withstand wear and tear from the weather and the curious audience, these mirrors can be easily stored and re-assembled.
Though I have to wonder about the carbon footprint of this work — what did it cost to produce and transport? — it’s nice to see how a public engagement can directly confront environmental issues. It follows in the vein of Yao Li’s shanshui landfill photography and Jody Xiong’s crosswalk tree canvas. Straight on the heels of an Economist cover story declaring China the “world’s worst polluter,” these works engage the public in a way that a written article can’t. What’s missing, unfortunately, is an answer to solving the problem at all.
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