A Chinese performance artist has found a way to concretely illustrate Beijing's notorious air pollution: by using it to create a brick.
For four hours every day for 100 days, Chinese artist Wang Renzheng held up an industrial vacuum-cleaner attachment to suck in Beijing air at various landmarks.
Passers-by were intrigued, inquiring if he was an air-sanitation worker, or if he was taking air samples, or if he could be hired to do air sweeps of their apartments, Wang recalled.
The 34-year-old artist hopes the performance art—dubbed the Dust Project—will sharpen the public's sense of China's air quality.
“Have you ever thought how much dust there is in the air, as Chinese cities are growing at high speeds?” Wang said to the Associated Press.
Although the public has come to realize the severity of China's air pollution, Wang said he feels change has been painfully slow.
“This is not an issue to be ignored, and I want to magnify it so much that you cannot ignore it,” he said.
Coincidentally, the project's 100-day phase of dust-collecting ended Nov. 29, right in the middle of this year's worst pollution spell in Beijing. Landmark buildings disappeared into thick smog and residents were asked to stay indoors. Monitoring sites reported that the density of tiny, poisonous PM2.5 particles had reached more than 40 times the safe level set by the World Health Organization.
Local media reports of Wang's performance art went viral early this month, with the headline that his vacuuming had gathered enough dust to make a normal-size brick.
Wang said that his 400 hours of air-sucking netted 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of dust, which was added to a mixture to make a brick at a factory in the northern city of Tangshan. The brick will be used in construction with other bricks.
“It should just disappear like a drop of water going into the sea,” Wang said.