Making macaroni jewelry is one thing, but the works featured at Cut/Paste, an exhibit presented by Motherbrand and the ROM takes creative reuse to a whole new level.
A toaster made out from a cigarette tin and a guitar string by an inmate in an Ontario prison from the fifties, par exemple.
The exhibit features First Nations adaptations of European goods to items by contemporary designers like Douglas Coupland (yea that guy) and Tobias Wong. Most notable works by the latter designers respectively are the totem pole recalling lamp made of fishing bouys found on the beaches of Haida Gwaii and the ingenious Smoking Mittens, equipped with a cigarette-sized hole so that smoking doesn’t leave you out in the cold. These bizarre contraptions are scattered throughout the Institute for Contemporary Culture’s gallery situated inside the infamous crystal of the ROM. The schizophrenic walls and ceilings of the space are a perfect venue for the reincarnated objects.
While creative reuse is one of the most ubiquitous trends in contemporary design, it also has deep roots in Canadian tradition. “Naturally, this type of improvisation occurs all over the world, often arising out of necessity, but in a young nation like Canada these conditions tend to spring up a lot,” says Motherbrand cofounder Michael Erdmann. Motherbrand John Ryan cites the small scale of manufacturing in Canada: “Sourcing materials from existing products is a powerful way to overcome these limitations.” Thus, Canadiana has a strong presence in the displayed pieces.
Historically, creative reuse was often done out of necessity, predating the ecofriendly, recycled material marketing we’re so familiar with today. Take the “Bennett Buggy,” a depression-era horse-pulled automobile with the engine and windows removed as an example. Named after then-Prime Minister R. B. Bennett, the common Bennett Buggy was often resorted to when Canadians didn’t have the financial means to operate the cars they bought in the roaring 20’s.
Cut/Paste offers insight on the current state of design with an aesthetically sleek and through-provoking range of items on display. An interesting message also lingers, to always think twice before taking out the trash.
On from January 20-31st at The Royal Ontario Museum.