Bonsai series, 2021

by Leo Mah

Bonsai consists of nine living sculptures made of found and scavenged material from my university campus and the adjacent industrial area. Through the rebirth of materials that have lost their original place and meaning, I take a close look at my held perceptions of recycling, rooted in environmental propaganda taught in elementary school. Through this artistic expression, I aim to challenge the economic values of consumerism and recycling.

Each sculpture is made of discarded materials that I salvage and reconsider through my curiosity about what we discard. This process of sourcing material is at the centre of this series. I refer to each sculpture as a creature, which I name after the original use of each foundational container, such as Sauerkraut and Turbo Power. Sand from a nearby construction site is a base material in each piece; this everyday substance plays a complex role within both environmentalism and infrastructure development.

At the core of my project is the unknown – regarding both what I might find and the possibility of what I may create. Through Bonsai, I ask viewers to rethink their relationships with recycling and to re-evaluate their contributions to environmentalism.

LEO Untitled Engine Oil
LEO Untitled Diesel
LEO Untitled White Rice Vinnegar

About the Artist