The Wa’s Basket Bin

  • The French urban interventionist (if that’s a profession) The Wa has transformed a traffic sign in Marseille into a basketball waste bin. Passers-by can dump their rubbish here, but have to produce a lay-up, dunk or try it for three points.

    The installation seems to work, as the net of the basket is filled to the brim with Marseilles rubbish. This work is playful and therefore extremely interesting, unintentionally building upon Volkswagen’s Fun Theory that claims that man’s behavior in public space could be changed in a positive direction when making things fun to do. (This Arcade Bottle Bank is one of the results of the Fun Theory campaign.)

    In addition, this artwork focuses on physical skills of passers-by. It takes a small but pleasant exercise to use the bin. It also makes me think of the so-called ‘blikvangers’, which most Dutch people will know. These bins are huge nets with a vertical ring along Dutch highway exits and bike paths. The idea is that people throw their rubbish through the ring into the net while they’re on the move, which is good for the environment and results in a lot of fun. Also when people miss their one-chance shot, at least all dirt is collected at one spot. If I were the Mayor of Marseille I would commission The Wa to transform all trash bins in the city into these smart basket bins.

    The Wa is a guerrilla artist who uses the tool of art for more justice and the ideal of a free space for discussion concerning cultural hegemony. While doing his work as a street artist, The Wa claims to have a single sentence by Pierre Bourdieu in his mind: “Democracy is the balance between people who have power and those who fight against them”. The Wa obviously belongs to the second group. His work can be considered as a mixture between avant-garde art and a subversive intervention.