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Upcycling: rebirth of trash at KKW

in Culture / Entertainment/Events by

For the second year in a row, art space Kunstkraftwerk (KKW) in Lindenau is hosting “Echt Alt/Original Old,” an exhibition and trade fair of upcycled art and products. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, upcycling takes old goods that may have otherwise been thrown away and turns them into new, usable products.

A lamp by Massimiliano Adami of Milan, made from recycled electronics.
A lamp by Massimiliano Adami of Milan, made from recycled electronics.

This weekend (21-23 October), visitors can experience hands-on the ingenuity of the international designers on exhibit. Objects displayed range from upcycled toys and pencils to large pieces of furniture – even an entire bedroom set made of discarded wood and fabric.

Glassware upcycled from recycled bottles, Daria Wartalska
Glassware upcycled from recycled bottles, Daria Wartalska

The creativity creates a lighthearted atmosphere in the gallery, but the work these artists are doing is quite serious. According to curator Lilly Bozzo-Costa, over 160 kilograms of garbage are created per person per year in Europe. We forget all of this plastic packaging, broken glass, and worn-out clothing once they reach the dumpster, but they don’t disappear.

Most of this material ends up in landfills, either here in Europe or in massive dumping sites in Africa.

Ghana, for instance, is the site of the largest landfill in the world. The scale of this mass disposal has a tremendous impact on the landscape and economy.

Senegalese designer Chèrie Yasna Koumba Barsanti, whose work is on display at the exhibition, says that these disposal sites are “poisoning” Africa’s natural resources. The nature and landscape that once provided life for the continent’s inhabitants is being destroyed by pollution, but Africans have “created some tricks to survive”. The landfill has become the center of an economy where residents recover everything from scrap metal and glass to gold. The material is then sold or repurposed.

The creative minds whose work is on display at the Kunstkraftwerk this weekend come from six countries on two continents, but all have taken up the challenge of using these discarded materials – and their own ingenuity – to create stunning new products.

Most of the pieces on display are useful, like Barsanti’s bags, clothes, and upholstery made of jute bags. Others, like the lamps and sculptures made by Italian designer Massimiliano Adami, are mostly decorative, while still others are toys.

Guests are invited to experience the art hands-on, and those wishing to take home a piece of the exhibition can purchase many of the works from the designers themselves. Items range from a five-euro pencil made from recycled graphite and rubber, to tables, lamps and other furniture made from recycled plastic and metal.

Whether shopping for furniture or just appreciating creativity, you are sure to get inspiration from Echt Alt/Original Old. You’ll find the Kunstkraftwerk to be the hub this weekend for art and eco-friendly ingenuity at the same time.

All photos taken by the author, including the chairs made from melted recycled plastic by Massimiliano Adami on the cover.


Echt Alt/Original Old
21-23 October
Kunstkraftwerk
Opening hours: 10.00-18.00 

Guests rest on a bench made from an old garbage container at the opening of Echt Alt.
Guests rest on a bench made from an old garbage container at the opening of Echt Alt.

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