"There’s a Great Future in Plastics"

This famous line from director Mike Nichols’ 1967 film “The Graduate,” whispered by a family friend to Dustin Hoffman’s character, the confused and rudderless graduate of the title, has proven uncannily true. Plastic has become the primary building and manufacturing material of our time, incorporated into everything from toothbrushes and razors to televisions, automobiles, and clothing.

And architecture (think of window-frames, light-switch covers, and piping). And art.

Think of Lego, for example, and of artist Jan Vormann, whose Dispatchwork projects use Lego bricks to fill in gaps and holes in buildings damaged by war in Bocchignano, Italy, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Berlin, Germany. (Photos at left are from Vormann’s website.)

In some of these places, small groups of people (citizen-artists?) carried the projects further, filling in more holes with Lego of their own.

There’s a kind of unsettling dualism at work here: soft colours jarring with the bright plastic, natural materials shoulder-to-shoulder with the hard-edged bricks, the artifacts of war filled by one of the world’s most famous children’s toys.

I like it.


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