A Waste-Picker, Lyu Zhiqiang, "The Section of Experimental Art at the 21th National Art Exhibition" 拾荒者,吕智强《第十二届全国美术作品展览 实验艺术展区》

Lyu Zhiqiang [吕智强]2014.08.18 -- 2014.09.08

Today Art Museum

Today Art Museum

A waste picker is a person who salvages reusable or recyclable materials from garbage. In reality, waste pickers are a minority group of poor people. They usually appear in the garbage sites in the urban cities to search for reusable and recyclable materials.

The artist’s waste picking is not out of poverty, but to explore the relationship between human and objects through such experiences. As the artist tries to become a person not constrained by material things, as Zhuangzi describes in the chapter Letting Be, and Exercising Forbearance, “(For men) Possessing the greatest of all things, they should not try to deal with them as (simply) things. And it is he who is not a thing (himself) that is therefore able to deal with (all) things as they require.”

In the contemporary commercial society, people are too busy fulfilling their materialistic ambitions to keep insights on themselves, and they have become slaves to money and possessions. The artist has endeavored to provoke reflections upon this living condition, and the relationship between the material and spiritual world. The artist uses the waste collected from the city to make furniture pieces and daily objects. His parents also assist him, participating in the making of the furniture. The amateur production reveals creativity and refined skills of normal people, and the practicality as priority. The physical limitations of materials as well as practical needs of life have inspired creative works without any pretentiousness. Following the natural rules is the way to escape the slavery to the materials and to embrace the essence of the world.

Therefore, the “waste-picker” is a modern savior of the deteriorating material world, a personification of liberation from materialism, and a representation of eternal harmony between the artist (subject) and the artwork (object), as the ancient poet Su Shi comments, “When viewed from a changing perspective, nothing in this universe remains unchanged even for a second, but when viewed from an unchanging perspective, then everything as ourselves perpetuate.”

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  • Title: A Waste-Picker, Lyu Zhiqiang, "The Section of Experimental Art at the 21th National Art Exhibition" 拾荒者,吕智强《第十二届全国美术作品展览 实验艺术展区》
  • Creator: Lyu Zhiqiang [吕智强]
  • Date: 2014.08.18 -- 2014.09.08
  • Provenance: Today Art Museum [今日美术馆]
  • Type: urban waste, furnishing, installation
  • Creator's Dates: 1986-
  • Creator Nationality: China
  • Creator Gender: male


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