Photos by Lori Zimmer for Ecouterre
Canadians produce 35 million tons of garbage every year, 80 percent of which winds up in a landfill or incinerator. To illustrate the bewildering quantity of waste, as well as draw up possible solutions for diverting it, Environment Canada challenged 16 artists from the fields of fashion, hairstyling, cabinetry, and the visual arts to transform post-consumer refuse into cutting-edge couture. Currently on display at the Biosphere Environmental Museum in Montreal, O.N.E. Outfits From a New Era underscores important environmental concerns with the castoffs of society, including building materials, batteries, salmon skins, and plastic bags. Above, Geneviève Dumas and Geneviève Flageol's "Bullet Dress" makes a statement with 2,000 fired shotgun shells.
Borrowing cues from the past lives of the materials, each work is accompanied by a short film, a soundtrack, or pieces of trash autographed by Canadian public figures such as Robert Lepage, George Stroumboulopoulos, Julie Payette, and Guy A. Lepage. In turn, the exhibit inspires visitors to see the beauty in what we throw away. The project also incited a desire for personal change in the artists themselves, who were transfigured by their participation.