Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Czech Mates Spruce Uprooted Christmas Trees as Recycled Art

The holiday season has come and gone, and we're more than half a month into the new year. By now, those who celebrate Christmas have either boxed up their seasonal pine tree or found a way to properly dispose of them.

Unless you have creative ambitions and live in central Europe. Such is the case for two artists from the Czech Republic who found a way to keep the Christmas spirit alive, if only for a few more weeks.

Michaela Klakurková and Jan Žaloudek took to Bucharest, Romania last week to re-plant dozens of used Christmas trees at a local piazza and liven up what is typically a frozen tundra this time of the year. Their effort is an environmentalist take on art, using only the natural conifers people have donated after January 6 – typically viewed as the final day of the Christmas season – to essentially create a recycled forest.

This year's event, titled "A Second Chance," is a step up from last year, when the pair did the same thing in their home country – without any prior consent. No fear, the duo were not punished. If anything, they've got plenty of support for this go-around. The New Stage of Prague's National Theatre has given both artists approval to set up their artistic vision in the public square just outside the Czech Centre in Bucharest. They were also sponsored this year by the Administration of Parks and Lakes of Bucharest and the Bucharest Public Transportation Authority.

But just like the Christmas season, this showing of second-hand trees will be for a limited time. Once all the trees have been installed and shown off, they will be composted as biological waste to be used in other ventures. However, this isn't a one-off project. The Czech Centre will host a similar production in April making jewelry out of discarded computer parts and appliances.

Personally, I like this idea. It shows that we still know how to be creative with left overs, while giving onlookers a sight (and smell) to admire for this time of the year. Even though all the trees look straight out of a Charlie Brown Christmas, the gesture is a fitting touch to breathe life into an object most would consider dead once New Year's Eve is just around the corner. And, besides, if that isn't art, then what do you call this? My thoughts exactly.

Their efforts also double as a subtle hint at taking up recycling to promote a healthy environment. Had these trees not been donated, they would've been piling up as waste for many days out on public streets. (Can you say decomposition?) And yes, I know, we've had Earth Day since 1970, but it's astounding at how many don't recycle and realize how simple it is. I know a guy where I used to live who occasionally calls me up and tells me that he has 6 to 8 industrial sized garbage bags full of aluminum cans, as if he has no idea what to do with them. Of course, I do, and I get fifteen bucks just for recycling every time. Saving the planet has never been this easier. Even if all you do is drop your recyclables off and don't get any monetary advance, that's still better than just having them end up in landfills and cause more pollution for us to suffer from.

And to think, the only good things I thought came out the Czech Republic was beer, beer, and Franz Kafka.

Well played, y'all. Well played.

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