Roadsworth Project: Fragile
Eaton's Centre, Montréal
The installation Fragile by Montréal artists Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong investigates the relationship between mass consumption and waste. Built entirely out of materials collected from the mall's waste depot, the sculpture confronts shoppers with the hidden byproducts of retail consumption. The rough, piecemeal qualities of the recycled material attacks the sterility of the mall-space. Each sculptural piece questions its virgin material: cardboard trees are reconstituted of paper fibre, extracted principally from forests in South-East Asia; and a koi pond of empty water bottles, the brief useful life of petroleum products. As with most of the artists' painted projects, the installation works with architectural features of the existing space: columns become trees, branching out into the floors; escalators become waterfalls, moving shoppers between levels.
I worked on this project for approximately 5 months, from March to July 2011. I was involved with the collection of materials (read: digging through the trash) and the design and construction of many of the sculptural elements. We tried to use very little new material and to use our recycled media as efficiently as possible. Busy shoppers stop to notice the massive installation, comprising 20 000 water bottles and 10 000 square feet of cardboard, but I sincerely hope that they stop and think "that empty water bottle could be mine".