Ecology takes over the art scene in Saint-Tropez with the Plastic Art Fair from 29 September to 5 October. An initiative that transforms polluting materials left in the middle of nature into works of art.
Every summer, hundreds of people throng the sands of the beaches or the coastal paths of the Bay of Saint-Tropez and the Calanques of Marseille. On the way back, they do not suspect that a large amount of waste has been left in these coveted places. Because nature is trying to reclaim its rights: the vegetation gradually covers these foreign objects and the tides pull them into the depths of the sea, so that they almost disappear. “There was so much raw material that something had to be done,” thought Édouard Granero at the time, observing this abandoned waste.
After spending part of his career in Paris doing video editing and creating special effects, this art and ecology enthusiast decided to go into exile in the south after the Covid-19 pandemic. There he met Jan Berger, founder of Plastic Art Fair and a native of Saint-Tropez, who also left the capital as well as the communications agency where he dealt with brand strategy to return to his city. After a first edition in 2021, the association organizes a new exhibition from 29 September to 5 October at Lavoir Vasserot in Saint-Tropez. Their goal: to recover the waste left in the Mediterranean and on its beaches, to offer artists to transform them into works of art, which will then be sold to the public.
During the first edition of the festival, placed under the theme “The Footprint”, Edouard Granero and Jan Berger sought to understand the impact of humans on their environment and warn of the consequences of our overconsumption. “There were already associations that collected plastic materials, the phenomenon remained recurring”, explains Jan Berger. “We said to ourselves: let’s try to find an alternative to using this plastic. That’s when we got the idea to design works of art and use them as a kind of medium to convey an environmental message.
To launch this event, the duo is collaborating with several associations. Already present in 2021, Mer Terre, able to identify, follow currents and rivers where plastic waste is found, is linked to the event by collecting and mapping pollution in Marseille. For this 2e edition, the Plastic Art Fair also collaborates with new associations, such as Palana Environnement, which helps them pull fishing nets left at sea, or Sauvage, which lends its workshops, where objects and jewelry are usually made from nets and stranded plastic, to the artists of the event.
A “Ghost” edition
Today, the 2022 edition is organized under the theme “Ghosts: transforming the material of the past”. Edouard Granero and Jan Berger intend to focus on one of the biggest causes of pollution at sea: abandoned fishing nets, also called “ghost nets”. “As we use plastic in our daily lives, we tend to use a piece of it, throw it away and forget about it. I liked the idea that these objects, like a ghost, could come back to haunt us,” explains Edouard Granero. “It sounds a bit creepy, but that was the idea. And above all, it overlapped the ghost net problem”.
The emergence of a new art scene
In addition to carrying out actions in favor of ecology and raising public awareness of environmental issues, Jan Berger and Edouard Granero want to develop a new artistic scene in Saint-Tropez, which until now has mainly welcomed pop art movements. “We go against the grain with contemporary multimedia artworks. It is true that the public is not used to seeing this type of art,” says Jan Berger. “Growing up here, I liked being able to shock mentalities a little”.
The fishing net transformed into a tapestry, telephones petrified in recycled plastic… Visual artists use everyday objects to compose their works. “I like the idea of bringing back a bit of spirituality that goes beyond the everyday object,” explains Edouard Granero. “One of the artists, Marion Flament, has to work with broken headlights to make stained glass: I think it’s fun to turn such an ordinary object into a sacred object. The execution is obvious to everyone and it allows us to have a clear, accessible and relevant message”. James Shaw, Wendy Andreu or even NDSOS… This year 7 visual artists come to propose creations conceived from the actions carried out at sea by the Plastic Art Fair and its partner associations. “A real challenge, because they have the technique, but are not used to working with plastic,” says Jan.
Each collaboration, whether with artists or associations, enabled Jan Berger and Edouard Granero to collect 90 kg of plastic last year, to sell all the exhibited works and to donate 30% of the profits to partner associations and another party to providers . You don’t have to be a big art lover or collector to get these creations. To maintain the idea of creating awareness among a diverse audience, the prices of the works ranged from 200 euros to 2000 euros for the 2021 edition. “We really try to vary the price scale because each work of art can communicate on this cause”, explains Jan Berger. “The idea is not to stop at an exhibition, but to ensure that our buyers are also our ambassadors”. A way to involve the public in the actions carried out without being directly on the spot. After a year of intense preparation, the 2022 edition is reaching its final goal. Jan Berger and Edouard Granero are already thinking about the sequel: “But talking about it now would risk bring us bad luck,” the latter concludes. The only thing left is to wait.
“Empreinte” exhibition by the Plastic Art Fair collective, from September 29 to October 5, Lavoir Vasserot, Saint-Tropez