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When PET bottles become art, then there can only be one message: there is no such thing as waste – only recyclables!
The “Earth Worth“ exhibition put on by German artist Thomas Luettgen had a record number of visitors making it the most successful art exhibition ever to be staged by the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen. Thomas Luettgen’s latest exhibition, “Earth Worth – Perspectives & Values”, which will be taken around the country, opened its doors to the public for the very first time in Hall 5 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein on 11 May. The exhibits are photographs and photographic objects illustrating our consumption and throwaway society. REMONDIS is supporting this exhibition, especially as it believes this art may truly succeed in changing people’s opinions about their waste-producing habits. Looking at the venue and the subject, it was only fitting that the waste management specialists, Essener Entsorgungsbetriebe, and NABU (German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) were there to provide their support.
The way the large photographic collages and three-dimensional pictures combine the senses of sight and touch is truly remarkable. All exhibits illustrate a stage of a recycling process. At first glance, viewers see pre-sorted categories of recyclable substances. A longer look, though, and these materials are seen in a completely different way. One common feature throughout the whole of the exhibition is that the material on which the works of art have been placed reflects the subject of the picture itself. Thus, for example, a picture with a metal theme has been printed on a metal surface. Thomas Luettgen has also created a limited number of three-dimensional pictures. The impression is that of a relief giving the visual image a three-dimensional surface.
Cardboard is becoming ever more important as online sales continue to grow. Thomas Luettgen is using his artistic skills to get people to think about this material as well
The aesthetics of the recyclable materials combined with the 3D effect has the potential to change the way people think and to get them to re-assess what is important to them. This exhibition gives a clear message: with the world’s population continuing to grow and our natural resources continuing to decline, there can and must be no waste – only recyclable materials.
The high number of visitors is a clear sign that this message is getting across. Over 5,000 people travelled to the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex to see the “Earth Worth” exhibition. Thanks to this success, Thomas Luettgen’s art has resulted in many people learning more about the true value of recycling.
A film about the art exhibition held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Zollverein’ (in German)
Thomas Luettgen (born in Leverkusen on 27 March 1952) is a German photographer and fine artist. He has focused on fine art since 2007. Having trained to become a colour lithographer, he then set up his first communications agency, which soon became one of the most successful agencies in Germany with him at the helm as managing director and creative head.
Inspired by a trip to Namibia in 2007 and the power of the imagery he found there, he decided to focus on creating art. In 2010, he produced a series of works entitled ‘crossTHing’ which were based on the photographs he had taken in Africa. These pieces of art took a detailed look at the country, people and nature of Namibia and clearly illustrate his fascination for the region. During his trip, Thomas Luettgen spent much time looking at the lives and culture of the Namibian Himba tribe. He documented their way of life in a series of photos and produced a stunning portrait of this indigenous tribe.
Whilst visiting the Namib Desert, Thomas Luettgen came face to face with the legacy of our modern society: plastic bottles carelessly discarded without a thought for the consequences. The sight of these foreign objects lying in the middle of one of the world’s oldest deserts prompted him to use art to take a critical look at the way humanity handles its natural resources. His first series of photos about this subject – entitled “Valuable” – was published in 2012.