Categories: Stories

Chinese Artist Vacuumed Beijing’s Smog For 100 Days And Made A Brick Out Of It

100 painstaking days of cleaning Beijing's air with a vacuum cleaner. Impossible? Not for this guy who even make a brick out of it.

China is known for having one of the heaviest air pollution situations in the world. Smog and dust seem to be a normal part of the country’s atmosphere, pushing its residents to stay indoors most of the time.

A 34-year-old man, however, braved the foggy streets of Beijing and spent four hours of his days for 100 days with a vacuum cleaner at hand. It is not his plan to be Mister Planet and he does not wish for the air quality index of his country to improve, he just wants to make a public point about the place’s extensively heavy smog.

How does he plan to make a stand?

Clean the air with a vacuum cleaner and build a brick out of all the dust he collected.

Meet Nut Brother. This is his 36th day of cleaning Beijing’s streets!

Photo credit: Quartz

Known as “Nut Brother,” the Shenzen artist first declared his plan during the latter part of July 2015. From then on, he donned his work jacket, tied his hair into a pony tail and walked the streets of China’s capital with a large vacuum cleaner. Sometimes wearing a face mask, Nut Brother held the cleaner’s nozzle up in the air to gather as much dust as he can.

“Air in Beijing is bad all over,” Nut Brother told Quartz. “There’s no special supply of air.”

Day 83!

Photo credit: Quartz

Nut Brother went on long walks from Beijing’s hutongs (old lanes) to the Tiananmen Square to the Bird’s Nest national stadium to the headquarters of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. After the day, he would post a photo of him in action at his Sina Weibo account. He also included the date and weather during that day.

He asked random people in the streets to take his photo. This is day 86.

Photo credit: Quartz

Throughout his journey, people would mistaken him as an “air monitoring person” or a “cleaner.”

Day 98. Woot woot! Two days to go!

Photo credit: Quartz

His project came to an end on Nov. 30, 2015. He then mixed the collected dust with clay and brought it to a brick factory to transform it into a semi-finished brick. The final product will emerge after days of drying and exposing to fire.

Nut brother mixes the dust he collected with clay to make a brick.

Photo credit: Quartz

Nut Brother’s project came about after living in the city for a couple of years. The so-called “airpocalypse” in Beijing just skyrocketed literally throughout the city.

The question now is, how much of the brick was made of the actual dust and smog he collected?

The answer: 100 grams.

Nut Brother said that clay was added, making the brick weigh “several kilograms.”

Almost finished with his brick!

Photo credit: Quartz

One Weibo use commented: “What can be collected to make a brick is by no means PM 2.5 [fine particulate matter that hangs in the air], but PM 250,” and that performance art should not be made into a gimmick.

Although it was not a far cry from other bricks in terms of its composition, he argued that it was just used as a symbol. “I’m not doing any scientific research,” Nut Brother said.

Now, he plans to donate the brick to a site where a new building is being constructed. With this, he plans to make the brick a part of the concrete jungle, just like putting a drop of water into the ocean.

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