“A Day in the Life” with Toronto Visual Artist Benjamin Von Wong

Benjamin Von Wong is a hidden gem in the climate movement, seamlessly blending artistry with catalytic action and collaboration. Von Wong’s impact isn’t confined to galleries or online platforms; his work serves as foundational material in art classrooms across the globe, inspiring the next generation of climate advocates. His installations and photographs—such as the 4-story tall Giant Plastic Tap showcased at the United Nations Headquarters, the Perpetual Plastic Machine commissioned by Greenpeace, and the Guinness-recognized Strawpocalypse crafted from 168,000 plastic straws—have captivated millions, becoming cornerstones in conversations that prompt nonprofits, corporations, and governments to “Turn Off The Plastic Tap.” His artistry transcends mere visual appeal, underlining the essential role of art in climate discourse. Beyond drawing attention, Von Wong actively raises significant funds for frontline communities, often employing local talent and channelling resources where they matter most.

Benjamin Von Wong
Before image of Von Wong in the space where the E-waste generator will live at Arcadia Earth Toronto. Image Credit: ©Von Wong Production | Manuel Gussmann
Benjamin Von Wong
Von Wong sorting through e-waste donated by Uni-Recycle. Image Credit: ©Von Wong Production | Manuel Gussmann
Von Wong constructing installation at Arcadia Earth Toronto. Image Credit: ©Von Wong Production | Manuel Gussmann
Von Wong fabricating E-waste Generator Art Installation. Image Credit: ©Von Wong Production | Manuel Gussmann
Von Wong fabricating E-waste Generator Art Installation. Image Credit: ©Von Wong Production | Manuel Gussmann
Von Wong on E-Waste Generator throne mid-construction. Image Credit: ©Von Wong Production | Manuel Gussmann
Benjamin Von Wong
First perspective of E-Waste Generator now on display at Arcadia Earth Toronto. Image Credit: Arcadia Earth Toronto
Benjamin Von Wong
Second perspective of E-Waste Generator now on display at Arcadia Earth Toronto. Image Credit: Arcadia Earth Toronto

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Which ‘hood are you in?

I just moved to Brooklyn, New York – and I’m excited to find new friends and collaborators!

What do you do?

I’m an artist and activist – creating large-scale experiences to talk about the world’s most pressing problems.

What are you currently working on?

Most recently, I created the E-Waste Generator, a giant art installation out of 5,100 lbs of electronic waste inside of Canada’s first sustainability-themed immersive exhibit, Arcadia Earth Toronto. The installation focuses on championing the “Right To Repair” – a growing movement that seeks to lower the cost of electronic repairs and upgrades to lower the amount of e-waste we generate as a society.

The installation was made with thousands of keyboards, circuit boards, mice, and cables (sponsored by Uni-Recycle), covering an 18-foot tall room, and is designed so that anyone can take the perfect selfie – demanding the right to repair.

Visitors will be able to interact with the installation, walking up steps to sit on a throne as a sound-activated broken mirror greets you as you survey the empire of electronic waste you rule over, inviting you to reconsider your role and reliance on technology.

70% of the world’s toxic waste in landfills comes from discarded electronics and although some of that could be resolved by better recycling, we need more sustainable and repairable products. The Right to Repair movement demands that companies provide affordable parts, tools, and documentation to independent shops and product owners allowing us to hold on to our products longer.

Where can we find your work?

You can see the installation at Arcadia Earth Toronto, at The Well at 486 Front St. W., Toronto. Tickets are on sale here, with $2 from every individual ticket donated to WWF-Canada.

You can also take a look at my work on my blog.

 

About Emilea Semancik 80 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to freelance her own pieces and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. She is also a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of recipe books. You can find her recipes on Instagram. @ancestral.foods