Plastic Fantastic: Cracking Art Group Colors Our World
Cracking Art Group seeks to change art history by taking an ethically responsible approach to ambient art. Founded in 1983, the six artists that comprise CAG expertly evoke the strict relationship between natural life and artificial reality through the innovative use of outsized animal assemblages expressed in brilliantly colored recycled plastic.
Art Group on Crack?
(image via: Mosaic Art Source Blog)
Cracking Art Group was founded in 1993 and their first poke at the public eye took place later the same year at the Epocale exhibition in Milan, Italy. The group’s six members (William Sweetlove, Renzo Nucara, Marco Veronese, Alex Angi, Carlo Rizzetti, and Kicco) all hail from west-central Europe, specifically Italy, France and Belgium.
What’s in a name? Much, if you’re Cracking Art Group. Take “Cracking,” for instance. By invoking the process of splitting, breaking, separating, and expanding “the gap of the contemporary man, struggling between the primary naturalness and a future more and more artificial.” Nice work if you can get it!
The word “cracking” has another meaning as well, in that it’s the name of the chemical refining process that breaks the long-chain hydrocarbons of crude oil into short ones which then become the building blocks of a wide range of petroleum-based plastics.
According to Cracking Art Group, “Artists belonging to this movement believe that cracking is that kind of process which converts the natural into the artificial, the organic into the synthetic”. Where would our modern technological society be without such processes?
Living in the Plastic Age
(image via: Unconsumption)
Every silver lining has its cloud, however, and Cracking Art Group believes that the process of transmuting natural to artificial, if not controlled, splits our species from our evolutionary path and confronts us with new realities beyond our experience. We are not who we used to be, it would seem, and the hard-wired humanity inside us conflicts with the overly processed lives we’ve created to “better” ourselves.
By selecting recycled plastic and adapting it to their own purpose, Cracking Art Group is attempting to wrench back control of the process and turn it towards fulfilling the movement’s social and environmental commitment to reinstating humanity as part of nature, not apart from it.
Can one separate Modern Man from his history and in doing so, change his future? Cracking Art Group thinks they can, and their modus operandi involves leveraging a unique, creative, conceptual formula that challenges the rules of contemporary art.
CAG’s challenge typically takes the form of an invasion: huge, colorful plastic animals interpose themselves into our modern public spaces: highways, supermarkets, office buildings and parks to name just a few. We may not notice discarded plastic water bottles in such spaces but their upcycled and boldly tinted reincarnations? Just try NOT noticing them.
The key element in Cracking Art Group’s assault on passive modern art and the dual nature of our millenary civilization is their use of recycled plastic. Upcycling plastic is a subversive activity: the artists effectively subtract a vital link in a one-way chain of toxic destruction that cumulatively can devastate our environment.
Though it might not look natural, “making plastic art works means communicating through an innovative and aesthetic language and expressing a particular sensibility to nature.” What’s more out of place, a flock of gigantic fuschia snails or a scattering of strewn plastic water bottles… are not both unacceptable?
The Dual Nature of Man’s Works
Active and frequent participants in art events and exhibitions over more than a decade, Cracking Art Group is perhaps best known for their outdoor installations. The larger than life size, scale and strangeness of these installations tends to catch the public eye whether the public wants their eyes caught or not: how can one disregard a commercial building covered by several dozen huge red plastic lizards? Business as unusual indeed.
In some ways, Cracking Art Group’s works bear a strong resemblance to those of the artist Christo (above). Both create immense outdoor installations employing large expanses of brilliantly colored material that co-opt real-world infrastructure to punctuate their impact. As well, both artists are environmentally-minded and use their art as a method of expanding ecological awareness.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Twenty-five years after Ferris Bueller said it, life’s moving faster than ever and FB’s pithy observation is ever more accurate. Our hectic lives and lifestyles rarely afford us the chance to stop, let alone look around.
Cracking Art Group’s oversized, visually intense and eye-grabbing outrageousness works to shake even the most undistractable among us, jarring our routines out of the rat race if only for a moment and prompting serious thought. Is this where we really want to be as a society? Does the march of progress to the current supposed golden age and beyond have a dark side, and if so, should we be ignoring it?
(image via: Kicco Cracking / Panoramio)
The late George Carlin once humorously mocked our frantic concern with “some plastic bags”, positing that plastic was, ultimately, one of the Earth’s children and our planet would eventually incorporate it into a new paradigm: The Earth Plus Plastic. It may yet happen but Mankind will be long gone by then. For the time being, though, ask yourself: what will you do when the big bad wolf comes to blow your plastic house down?