Creativity hurts our society

Throwing it away hurts

The house in the former trendy district of Schöneberg in Berlin is still a holdover from the squatters' days. But only externally. It takes a while before the large entrance gate, which doubles as the front door, opens after the doorbell rings. Chusa Lanzuela-Garcia has to come down herself. There is no automatic door opener. But there are bike-enthusiastic tenants. Over twenty bicycles are crowded together in the passage to the backyard. None of them are secured with a heavy lock. In the front, rear and side wings, which frame the green inner courtyard, live people who know and trust each other and still have a lot of common sense. "On Sunday I'll make breakfast for everyone," wrote Susanne on the piece of paper and pinned it to the front door. It's a shame that today is not Sunday.
Chusa Lanzuela-Garcia's studio is in the front building, on the first floor, which she shares with other artists. The doors are always open. They have set up a kitchen in the hall. The large dining table also offers space for friends and acquaintances. And they come in large numbers - they speak Spanish, English, German. Chusa is a recycling artist. She uses what other people throw away as work material. The remnants of our consumer society. Ten years ago, the Spaniard came to Berlin from the province of Tervel via Munich. She loves this city, which for her has something magnetic. She likes her openness, her cultural and human diversity. "And in the middle of it all, I have the opportunity to do my art."
It's just as colorful and diverse as the city. A bright red can of tomatoes holds Chusa's medium-length, red-brown hair in a ponytail that bobs back and forth over her head. She has been wearing this unusual hair clip for years. It also has something to do with her stage name: Miss Lata. "Lata comes from Spanish and means can or tin," she explains with a laugh to the linguist. But when he tries to Germanize her stage name, her forehead immediately wrinkles. She's right, Spanish sounds a lot more imaginative.
There is a light scent of olives and oranges in the air of her studio. Two walls of the approximately 30 square meter room on the artist floor are covered with almost four meter high shelves. The contents of our yellow bin in front of the front door are stacked in it: cans, tins, yoghurt cups, milk and juice bags, mountains of bottle caps, corks, phone cards in cardboard boxes ... Everything carefully cleaned and sorted. Chusa can't throw anything away. She lovingly takes a can in her hand, very carefully with two fingers, as if she might break like glass at any moment. "Throwing it away hurts," she says. “At home, things seldom ended up in the trash. If something broke, it was fixed, no matter how old it was. Other things, like packaging, found new uses in my mother's household. ”She points to a particularly beautiful metal cookie jar with a picture of a woman on it, which is on the shelf above her workbench. It dates back to the 1960s. Her mother recently gave it to her. The can was in the parents' kitchen for over three decades. It is important to her, says Chusa, when things like this are on the street or land in the garbage. "In my studio I can make something new and beautiful out of it."
The new and beautiful, as she simply calls it, are dresses, costumes - imaginative creations, fascinating in their colors, shapes and materials. They hang on a coat rack. At the front is a dress that is reminiscent of the time of the pharaoh Cleopatra. Made entirely of bottle caps that are held together with hundreds of tiny metal rings. She has slipped one of her latest creations on a tailor's dummy standing in the middle of the studio. A dress made from milk cartons - the skirt is short, the top cut out for summer. The colors blue-white and silver. It almost looks as if it is hanging ready for a customer to try on - like in a real tailor's shop.
The artist makes the right accessories for each costume: necklaces, hair clips, earrings ... The raw materials for this are in a corner on the floor: fish tins cut apart, yogurt cup lids and much more. Chusa quickly climbs a ladder and takes handbags down from the shelf. They are of course not made of fine leather, but of old film cans or small beer barrels, as you can buy them in any supermarket. She carefully cut out the openings with a metal cutter and glued the razor-sharp metal edges with strips of leather. She had to be particularly careful when attaching the hinges, fasteners and shoulder straps, she explains, the metal is soft and you can easily get a dent in it. Inside, the pockets are lined with red velvet. The artist quickly guesses the thoughts of the viewer who imagines walking on the street with it. People would think he was crazy. Which she doesn't find at all and almost seems a bit offended. Because the customer base for her accessories, which can be bought at exhibitions, »is considerable. These are people who want something special that not everyone wears. "
Chusa Lanzuela-Garcia wants to stimulate thought with her art. "Does everything that we no longer need really have to be thrown away?" She asks. "With a little imagination, a lot can be used for other purposes." Like her mother's empty biscuit jar, which was used to store all the little things in the household. Or the dried tea bags that Chusa collects in a can. They have nothing disgusting about them; on the contrary, they spread a scent of peppermint, orange, mallow and chamomile. One day a dress should be made out of the bags. But before that happens, her friends and acquaintances still have to drink a lot of tea.
Chusa tells the story of the clothes horse she took from the street last year to make costumes. Her friend didn't believe that she would find any. But within just three weeks there were 15 drying racks in her studio. She found them on her way between her apartment in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district and the studio, which she covers every day by bike. “Most of them were like new. Often only a small screw was missing, a strut was bent or a bit of paint chipped off. But people then throw it away immediately. Because repairs are often more expensive than buying a new one. Which is of course wanted by the manufacturers so that they can sell more and more products. After all, we live in a throwaway society. ”But Chusa cannot accept that. Maybe that's why she turned her creative, artistic skills into a profession and dedicated herself to recycling art.
The petite, barely 1.60 meter tall woman discovered the skills very early on. She still lived with her parents and had a middle-class profession. She worked as a medical-technical assistant. The work "I liked very much". In addition, she made jewelry from leftovers - for household use, so to speak. Maybe she would still do it today if she hadn't come to Munich, eleven years ago. She explains that these were "private reasons" that brought her to Germany. She doesn't want to say more about it. Studying art was out of the question for her, “that would have narrowed me down too much. I didn't want to commit myself to a certain direction «. Chusa attended various workshops and courses, including in metalworking, "to professionalize my manual skills". She left the rest to her imagination. And that seems inexhaustible.
She started small: with jewelry and other accessories. In order to earn a living, she worked, among other things, as a costume assistant in various film and theater productions. But she no longer needs to do that today. "I can now make a pretty good living from my art." That sounds pretty proud. With her idiosyncratic creations made of metal, plastic, foil, cardboard or tetra packs, Chusa Lanzuela-Garcia has long made a name for herself. She shows them at exhibitions and performances, not only in Germany, but also in her home country and in France. She organizes workshops for children and art teachers - mostly on the sidelines of her exhibitions. Chusa Lanzuela-Garcia wants to show that art can also contribute to heightening environmental awareness. That is why she is one of the main initiators of the 1st RestCycling Art Festival in Germany, which is taking place today and tomorrow in Berlin.
"Everything can have a different function," says Chusa, explaining the concept, which is intended to sensitize visitors to the process of throwing away and processing consumer and waste products in our society. Eighty international artists from the fields of painting, sculpture, installation, fashion and grafitti will present their ideas. Forty of them will create sculptures, pictures, lamps and other things in life studios from paper and metal waste, old wood or discarded small furniture. The model for the festival is a similar one, which has been taking place in Roubaix in France for eleven years with great response. Chusa's greatest wish is for the capital to have a new, long-running cultural favorite. Art and the environment united under one roof.
1st RestCycling Art Festival today and tomorrow in the RAW Temple (former Reichsbahn repair shop), Revaler Str. 99 (S- and U-B ...

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