Jon Super / AP
CARBIS BAY, England – Security is stepped up in the English county of Cornwall as President Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven – seven of the richest countries in the world – prepare to meet for a weekend summit. end from Friday.
But if you want to get a glimpse of Biden, Germany’s Angela Merkel, or the other powerful politicians, your best bet may be a two-story sculpture that reproduces their likenesses using e-waste in the hills above the resort. where they meet.
The sculpture, which draws large crowds, is arranged like Mount Rushmore – but with G-7 leaders instead of US presidents.
Sculptors, artists Joe Rush and Alex Wreckage, have nicknamed it “Mount Recyclemore”. Rush says he hopes executives spotted him on their flights to Cornwall and that encourages them to deal with the global avalanche of e-waste.
“The message is that we have to find a way to deal with this electrical waste that we produce, because we don’t have the means to fix it and we don’t have the means to get rid of it,” says Rush.
Jon Super / AP
The world produces around 53 million tonnes of electronic waste per year and this volume is expected to double by 2050, according to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the International Telecommunication Union.
Adam Minter, author of Junkyard Planet: Journeys Through The Billion Dollar Trash Trade says most people in the developed world associate e-waste with unsafe practices in developing countries.
But he says Mount Recyclemore “is forcing viewers to see e-waste as something that is local, immediate, and truly theirs. Answering e-waste questions will in part force consumers in developed countries to tell manufacturers to make products. more durable and repairable devices. Works like this is a starting point for discussion. “
The sculpture, which took 12 people to build over six weeks, bears a striking resemblance to the world leaders it represents. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s notoriously neglected hair includes a jumble of old telephone receivers hanging by their cords. Biden’s skin is a carpet of green circuit boards, and his lips are made up of rows of dented backs of Samsung and Apple smartphones.
Joanie Willett, who teaches politics at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, says she thinks the most empowering touch is the circuit boards that make up Biden’s face.
“Because these are things we don’t even see,” she says. “It’s totally invisible and we don’t think about it when we use the material.”
The sculpture drew much environmental comment among the dozens of people who gathered there as night fell on Friday night. There were also meta-moments where people – with no apparent sense of irony – used their smartphones to snap photos of sculptures made with old smartphones.
The installation is not only a striking piece of art and environmental activism, but it is also a clever marketing piece. It was sponsored by musicMagpie, a UK company that buys old electronics and repackages them for resale, and its US brand, Decluttr.
Liam Howley, the company’s chief marketing officer, says the company buys around 1,500 tech items and 40,000 multimedia items – including old CDs and DVDs – in the UK every day, and that some of its materials have been used to create Mount Recyclemore.
“We’re trying to raise awareness, to make people know that, can take action and encourage better behavior to refurbish, recycle, reuse,” Howley said.