The air pollution levels in China have been above the standard permissible levels for quite some time. To protest the Government’s apathy and drive his point home, Beijing artist Liang Kegang brought and then successfully auctioned off a sealed jar containing mountain air collected from Provence, France.
Beijing artist Liang Kegang returned from a business trip in southern France, which in itself is famous for strange reasons. He was so enthralled by the purity of the air there as compared to his own city’s smog laden one, that he ‘collected’ some of it in a jar, sealed it and brought back home. He put it up for auction before a group of about 100 Chinese artists and collectors late last month and the jar managed to fetch 5,250 yuan ($860).
Interestingly, making money from such unique opportunity, wasn’t the intention, clarified Kegang. “Air should be the most valueless commodity, free to breathe for any vagrant or beggar. This is my way to question China’s foul air and express my dissatisfaction” said Liang in an interview.
China’s air pollution has already crossed danger levels and some cities are constantly engulfed in a permanent blanket of smog containing harmful pollutants that are way higher than what is considered safe by World Health Organization (WHO). However, the Government is in a gridlock about arresting and subsequently reducing the air pollution.
In recent times, Chinese citizens have become very vocal about the hazardous pollution. This has forced the Government to take note of the obvious but consider themselves helpless, since taking corrective action would mean putting immediate brakes on the manufacturing industries. It is quite evident that China has become the industrial nation for the entire world with majority of the world’s growing demand of almost all products being fulfilled by production houses working 24×7 in China.
The pollution has spurred a huge demand for dust masks and small home air purifiers. However, the country’s majority of the work population is continually struggling with the effects of air pollution and this has what drove Liang to employ such a clever and non–violent way of protest. Liang’s contribution is a short, ordinary glass preserves jar with a rubber seal and a flip-top. It has three small, handwritten paper labels: one with the name and coordinates of the French village, Forcalquier, where he closed the jar; one saying “Air in Provence, France” in French; and one with his signature in Chinese and the date 29 March, reported Huffington Post.
The highest bidder, Chengdu-based artist and entrepreneur Li Yongzheng said in a telephone interview, “I have always been appreciative of Kegang’s conceptual art, and this piece was very timely. This past year, whether it was Beijing, Chengdu or most Chinese cities, air pollution has been a serious problem. This piece of work really suits the occasion.”
Liam’s jar is just a tip of the iceberg. Chen Guangbiao, an etreprenuer who made millions from recycling garbage, has been selling fresh air in cans under his “Good Person” brand. The cans sell for around $3 each, reported The Guardian.
[Images via Yahoo, Huffington Post]