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September 25, 2014

The Swiss E-Waste Artist

Continuing our blog theme of stories about e-waste from around the world, the latest comes as a unique combination of a Zurich-based Swiss artist named Raphael Perret who is in India displaying a video and art exhibition he created.

This isn’t just any abstract or obscure artwork however; it has a theme of electronics recycling! His artwork is called “Smarahara Yantra”, which translates to “removal of desire”. Perret’s inspiration for the startling pieces is his fascination with the e-waste recycle industry currently in India.

Perret went to New Delhi for several months where he spent time collecting hundreds of things like old disposed cell phones, computers and keyboards to create his masterpieces.

He is an artist who specializes in electronic arts and took his time immersing himself in Indian electronics recycling, poking around for different gadgets at the local recycling plants there. The area he went to is considered more informal, where people get rid of old belongings for a price.

In addition, Perret spoke to a handful of the e-waste workers in the country, many which have to work with hazardous chemicals to strip the electronic parts for resources and worthwhile metals, such as gold, silver, palladium and copper.

Perret spoke of his surreal experience, saying that we see the products appear in stores but don’t know what is really going on, nor do we ask where these things come from and where they go.

What struck Perret as perhaps most surprising was that the informal network in the Indian cities he visited was both organized and efficient. They wanted to get the most from every item they could, and tried to get to every piece of e-waste they had, no matter the size.

Finally, to really show how this industry is exploding, Perret met with a former local farmer, who gave up tending land and livestock after realizing retrieving copper out of old circuit boards was a more profitable pursuit!

Clearly, it is becoming a different, more technology-oriented world in which we live.

To read the original story in its entirety, please check out the article here.

For more great posts on things in our industry, check back each week for new and exciting stories and updates!