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The Plastic Bag: Forever friend

Text: Yoshiko Nagai


If plastic bags can’t return to the soil forever, why not keep using them? Dutch artist Elisa van Joolen collects plastic bags that seem to be crumpled up in the depths of her kitchen cupboards. She now has about 1,000 bags that come to her from all over the world. She uses them to create unique bags, combining a perfect balance of colors and shapes. …… Up until now, recycling has been a self-indulgent hobby, but after this, her art project makes sense.

She publishes plastic bags on a dedicated website and invites people to borrow the “empty” bags and become their “guardians” for a set period of time. These users then post photos and comments on the site about their use of the bag and their daily life with it. A few months later, when the due date arrives, they return the bag, saying goodbye. It teaches us not to own things, to keep using them and to respect those of others. It is the plastic bag that teaches us this lesson, so close and so useless.

Yoshiko Nagai
She became an independent curator, after having worked for a company planning and producing cultural activities. She connects creators, artworks, and audiences by creating and communicating values in a way that suits the environment. She is the author of “Out of line,” an exhibition by Alison Turnbull (2020, Tokyo), and the booklet Materia Prima, which is published irregularly.

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