Plastic bombastic abounds this week with the opening of "See How You Feel", an exhibition championing the humble plastic bag. Created by Berlin-based artist Dodi Reifenberg, this multi-coloured show focuses its concerns exclusively on plastic bags as a valuable and somewhat outcast aesthetic, rather than commentary on recycling and waste.
This is evident from the off, with Soutine's Chicken that greets you on your way in, an energetic swirling of knotted plastic bags hung from the ceiling. Reifenberg's use of techniques is fun and unexpected: Bacon's Bacon takes crocheting to the next level, just as Brain In Love does so with knitting, turning refuse into a carpet you want to snuggle up in. Indeed, you do sometimes wish for the tactile experience, but you won't find it here (it's artwork to be admired rather than interacted with).
Elsewhere, it is in Reifenberg's mosaic works that the plastic bag really transcends its form. Tiny pieces of cut-up bags and scotch tape are resembled into startling portraits of known figures, including Jackie Kennedy, Barack Obama and Walter Benjamin. Each is clearly the work of eye-watering and painstaking patience, you cannot help but stare agog at the awesome task of it. Other works such as Chrissie appear less time-consuming and are yet no less baffling (trolleys will never look the same again). Set in stark white surroundings and in a gallery just two doors away from Claridge's, Reifenberg's playful and gob-smacking show is the perfect tonic to London's winter skies.
By Tommy Wong
See How You Feel is free and runs at Maddox Arts, 52 Brook's Mews, until 7 March 2009.
Image Dodi Reifenberg, Walter Benjamin, 2007 (scotch tape & plastic bags)