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A giant levitating tap spewing garbage: How a Montreal artist is raising awareness of plastic pollution

TORONTO —
An artist in Montreal is on a mission, in a big way, to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

He has enlisted volunteers to build a massive installation around 10 metres tall. But despite the size, those working on it have sadly no shortage of material for the sculpture — it’s made out of trash.

“We’re building a three-story-tall art installation with plastic flowing out of it, and on top of this is a giant faucet,” Benjamin Von Wong, the artist behind the installation, told CTV News. “The idea is to tell people that we need to turn off the plastic tap.”

This latest project is part of Von Wong’s quest to help people rethink habits that have plagued oceans for years.

Plastic pollution has been a problem for decades. Just last month, a three-week clean up effort in the Hawaiian archipelago — surrounded by what is known as the Pacific Garbage Patch — turned up around 47 tonnes of junk.

“About 80,000 pounds was made up entirely of ghost nets, derelict fishing nets, and about 14,000 was made up of ocean plastics that we pulled off the shorelines,” Kevin O’Brien, with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project, explained.

This vast plastic pollution can be deadly for wildlife and hugely detrimental to our environment.

Von Wong has worked to raise awareness about this issue. His past projects have included a mermaid struggling in an ocean of plastic and a swimmer splashing through 170,000 plastic straws.

“I think with art, you get the opportunity to invite new people into an old conversation,” Von Wong said.

This time, a small army of volunteers has signed on to sort through the plastic and assemble the flow of garbage.

Isabelle Racine, one of the volunteers, said she wanted to help because the project aligns with her beliefs.

“I think it’s important,” she told CTV News. “Projects like this are important to show people […] the enormous amount of plastic that’s been generated.”

The giant tap itself, from which the garbage will flow, is made of scavenged ventilation duct.

“We design it [using] upcycling parts,” Jeremy Lizandier, with GAUFAB, a manufacturing company that helps construct creative installations, told CTV News. “We found them in an old factory that was ready to be scrapped. We saved these tubes from the scrap heap to build this faucet.”

When finished, the sculpture will look like an enormous levitating tap, spewing garbage.

It will be immortalized in a photo shoot next month, so that even when the installation has to come down, the images will live on, reminding us of our plastic output.

With files from Alexandra Mae Jones



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