A question of select and delete?

After visiting the plastic bag gallery I can only wish the participant photographers picked the bags up and got rid of it afterward. Some are to the point but in most cases I would have hoped they did it already before making the image. In general I would call a plastic bag in a street a piece of rubbish to be dumped in a litter box. Does anybody agree? We can all start a discussion about this. Just that Duchamp redefined art a hundred years ago does not mean to follow him as sheep or copy him in a brainless way. How permanent should a ready made be to be ready to be a sculpture in urban surroundings, for instance. And what in the case of time based art or performance?

I would like to show a relatively permanent and temporary example of sculptures i encountered in Bergen which both fit the title according to my (yes, negotiable) rules. The blue fence which is the outside wall of a car park does not get this definition if it would have had another color than this blue though. The pile of snow is in front of Bergenhallen in Sletten. It is more permanent than one might think: this photo is made on a warm September day. Actually last summer young artist Sveinung R Unneland remade a similar piece of snow in public space for Tempo Skien 08. (go to site, click artist – unneland – top photo). It was the first (or only?) object to be destroyed by passersby.


  1. Sveinung Unneland's snow sculpture would seem an appropriate response to the location - Skien was the location of the Union Paper factory that closed in 2007, so a melting clump of white snow would evoke the disappearance of paper production form the site. As regards the status of plastic bags = rubbish to be disposed of, that's indisputable, of course. But at another level - and among the better examples of photographic documentation this is clear - they are also elements in a language of signs and images that infect the space around us. Reading these "accidental" texts in the environment is for me an unavoidable part of the everyday experience of contemporary urban (or not so urban) space.

    A couple of years ago in Dublin I was surprised to notice relatively large numbers of yellow plastic ducks on the River Liffy. At first I assumed it was probably the work of an artist or art students from one of the Dublin colleges. Then I began to wonder if it was maybe some kind of an action, a protest or a symbolic event of some kind. Later I discovered that it was the result of some kind of competition or publicity stunt - a very large number of plastic ducks had been launched into the river a few days earlier and by the time I saw it, most of them had disappeared, presumably out to sea. And finally I could only think of it as environmental vandalism, totally unnecessary and unjustifiable pollution and probably also a threat to wildlife. What would happen to fish or large seabirds that swallowed a yellow plastic duck?

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  3. The link above is just one example of the "Bagsy" set. While I understand that it is not a "real" plastic bag (they can appear to be real, requiring a second glans to see that they are in fact painted), and it is made deliberately by the artist, it somehow goes in to the discussion as a comment about the urban environment with a double facade:
    - the rubbish bag as an aesthetic partof the urban environment,
    - it appears to be real and "randomly" placed
    - it is a comment about "trash" "art" "vandalism" "environment" - Bagsy/Banksy pun

  4. Remember the Plastic Ono Band? Everybody's talking about baggies.... Bagism etc. Happy Bag Year!


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