When was the last time you looked at a frayed piece of wire or a well-worn toothbrush and thought, “Hmm. I definitely need to add these to my art collection.” Never, right? Well, that’s exactly the way junk artist Dhiraj Sharma’s mind works. He has the ability to look beyond the ordinariness of an everyday object and turn it into a piece of art. In an interview with Mahevash Muses, the shy creative talks about what inspires him, how we can all deal with waste and his future plans for 8mango.
Most people view junk as junk. What is it about a used object that makes you want to convert it to art?
I believe in the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Just because an object has been used does not mean it is now useless. I treat the task of finding another purpose for that object as a creative challenge. It all started during my school days when I used to collect soft drink crown caps to make simple puzzles using magnets. Dismantling junk tape recorders, iron boxes, TV sets, etc. to extract magnets while watching Malgudi Days used to be one of my favorite pastimes. Soon, my neighbors saw and appreciated my creations. And then, they began to stock up on junk appliances for me. I guess I got carried away a bit since then!
You have worked with a wide range of objects – from wires and chair wheels to wires and e-waste. How do you get your inspiration?
Movies like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind have contributed big time in my journey with junk art. When these movies were made, there was no computer graphics. Instead, miniatures were used to depict cities, buildings, etc. Being a designer at heart, I was moved by the visual effects done using these miniatures. The kind of creativity involved to make one object appear to look like another object has, and will always, inspire me. Movies like these inspire me to take different pieces of junk and make something unique out of them.
What can individuals and companies do to counter the increasing amount of waste on a local and global level?
There are many things that can be done, but the first thing that is needed is a mindset makeover. As individuals and companies, we need to accept that yes, waste generation is a problem that’s on the rise. And if we don’t do anything about it, our planet will no longer be habitable in the near future. Then, each one of us simply needs to practice RRU: Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. RRU is the key formula to curb the amount of waste that is generated on a daily basis. Note that upcycling is not the same as recycling. Besides this, waste segregation is the need of the hour. It’s good to see that many organizations have started following this religiously. It’s high time people start following this at home too.
What are your future plans for 8mango.com?
As of now, I am creating utility-based artifacts like table lamps, clocks, etc. using junk. I also make theme-based artifacts, for which you can send in your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. My plan for the future is to create large artifacts that will compel people to change their perspective on what they view as junk.