PARIS – Holiday art has decked out the town hall of Paris’s fourth arrondissement this year with a little more green than usual. Eco-artist Fabrice Peltier installed his now-famous plastic bottle Christmas trees around the hall along with a new 27-meter long garland above the interior stairway to promote his message of recycling and environmental consciousness. This is the third year that Peltier has mounted the installation in a different part of the city, this year in the trendy Marais neighborhood.
The French rank among the top bottled-water consumers in the world, leading to an enormous amount of bottles ending up in recycling bins or worse, in trash cans. Artist Fabrice Peltier, founder of Designpack Gallery in 2008, searches new ways to reuse these bottles without sending them to the processing plant, which itself leads to energy consumption and byproducts. “My interest is to show a way of recycling based on reusing, to minimize the impact on the environment,” he said.
His Christmas trees demonstrate his mission. Instead of decorating the town hall with pine trees, Peltier collected green and red plastic bottles and used them to create his own trees. The bottles are not altered but are arranged on a frame and illuminated by low energy consuming LED lights at night.
The trees themselves are transformations of the plastic bottles, giving them a second life. This year’s bottles were part of a previous exhibit that Peltier constructed at the nearby BHV department store. He simply took down that exhibit and reused them for his trees.
One of the most interesting parts about these trees, according to Peltier, is that spectators understand his message without any guidance. No signs or explanations are ever put near the trees, but when people experience them, they understand his message on some level. “When I produce exhibits and installations, I try to play on the emotions of people. Once the emotions are touched, the rest of my message passes through more easily,” he said.
Having grown up surrounded by environmentalist ideas, Peltier went on to start his own packaging design firm in 1985. He stresses the importance of packaging materials that help preserve food and prevent other sorts of waste, but he said it has to be thought about intelligently. “When it wasn’t fashionable to talk about it, it was me that spoke about it,” he said.
Today, his art is more than fashionable. Peltier has been asked to set up exhibits all over the world. “The response has been very positive and they are asking for me everywhere,” he said. He’s currently in Australia to discuss his work down under.
Photo: Onno Schoemaker