pink plumes or green clouds?

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Regards Culturels — Tags: — HeHe @ 00:02 04/10/2012

The gigantic smokestacks at the edge of Paris, endlessly puffing their clouds into the skies of Saint-Ouen and Ivry-sur-Seine, give the impression of a hub of industrial activity. In a time of crisis, when politicians talk of the need to re-industrialise France, the factory cloud might be seen as a beacon of hope. But of course most of us know that these particular sites do not produce anything material, rather they burn the excesses of our conspicuous consumption: our increasingly lavish waste.

Pierre Damien Huyghe writes of the factory “Not everyone who wants to can enter the premises: the place is not transparent, rather closed, subjected to rules about access. And so the factory differs profoundly from a theatre stage. In contrast to the latter, the former is not arranged nor lit up to catch the eye.”(1) Although the incinerators could well be mistaken for factories, in France they are more often referred to as ‘centrales’, classified sites, and the owners dislike finding their buildings in the spotlight of public attention. And if they are made to sweat under the floodlight of environmental activism, they suffer even more. But how can art co-exist in such controlled places? Art-factories yes, but factories as art? At the inauguration of the new incinerator in Saint-Ouen in 1990, newspaper headlines proclaimed “An end to drab and grim industrial buildings? In Saint-Ouen, the new rubbish incineration factory resembles rather a work of art”(2). However, if we visit this site today we come quite quickly to the conclusion that this incinerator is not a cathedral of art at all, but a shabby shed surrounded by wasteland. From the exterior, Ivry-sur-Seine fares better; with its multifaceted façade and chimneys like rockets, it exterior was designed to be viewed from the valuable loft real estate that surrounds it. But on a daily basis the only interface between the incinerator and the people living close by, is the cloud.

Since we don’t know the precise nature of the technological processes inside the incinerator, only the cloud lets us imagine the inside of the furnaces. And so it is onto the cloud we project our worries and fears. The motivation behind Nuage Vert (3), is to give form to this emission cloud and its significations, to frame its amorphous shape by capturing and drawing its outline in real time. The interaction with the cloud is not only a symbolic gesture, but also a process put together with experts and residents. On a social level this includes engagement with local associations, public authorities, scientists and industry to develop an imaginative language to discuss waste production. On a practical level it means developing an art work with the voluntary help of different laboratories and individuals. Nuage Vert is initiated independently of vested interests. The autonomy of an otherwise harmless project like Nuage Vert might be the fundamental reason which animated local authorities to block, censor and challenge the realisation of the work in Saint-Ouen (2009) and in Ivry sur Seine (2010) (4).


As soon as individuals or local associations engage with the subject of the emission cloud, a politics of chronic nervousness governs. It is for this reason that the syndicat intercommunal de traitement des ordures ménagères de l’agglomération parisienne (Syctom), the waste authority in Paris, decided to rebuild the incinerator of Issy-les-Moulineaux with chimneys that are not visible from the street with an emission cloud itself that is invisible. The gas filters are the same, the factory uses more energy, but the presence of the waste treatment facility becomes imperceptible.

The operators of incinerators will always have a sensitive relationship with the local residents - it must be the smell. Following the usual consultation procedure for the reconstruction of the centrale in Ivry, Syctom wouldn’t contemplate an illumination of the vapor emission on this site. A wasted opportunity. The failure to follow a bottom-up initiative is symptomatic of how waste discourse in France is administered as a hegemonic presence which is not open to interventions from civil society (5). Suspicious of engaging with individuals or groups from ‘outside’, worse, the general public is accused indiscriminately. The consumer, apparently, is the guilty party in the story of waste: “Stop wasting” et “Throw Away Less, Reuse” was projected onto the facade of the incinerator to replace the artwork on the cloud. The public is ‘informed’ but is not entrusted with the means to contribute, even by means of the imagination. In the absence of any interaction between residents and the incineration machine, it is no wonder that the occasional discussion forums organised by Syctom often end with a discharge of emotions.

If for this year’s Nuit Blanche the clouds of the incinerator in Ivry-sur-Seine are beautified with a choreography of coloured light (6), what does it matter? We are being fed a purely aesthetic rather than a political statement. In contrast to the fluorescent green intervention realised without ‘authorisation’ in 2010, a rose tinted spectacle, complete with complementary colours as part of a major cultural manifestation, is sure to be uplifting without engaging with difficult people who might ask questions. Positive, at ease with the language of marketing and packaged for the cultural machine, it doesn’t risk being interpreted in a critical way. The fact that the light source is hosted on the site of the incinerator and that the chimney itself is illuminated alongside the emission avoids any confusion. The colour pink in the title - close to the purity of white – directs our mind to nice things: happiness, compassion and femininity. Ambivalent words such as ‘cloud’ are absent in favour of the more elegant and politically correct ‘panache’ and the royal reference (7) confirms to the viewer that indeed, the incinerator is the King of Ivry. Oddly enough, the use of a computer controlled colour transition is recognisable to anyone who is familiar with the air quality index on Airparif’s website, but this is surely not the intention. The cloud becomes an artist’s canvas and masks any issues related to the activity inside the factory. However, the emission cloud over the incinerator is not a projection surface like any other. The Centre Multifilière is an open-air laboratory contested by local residents and independent organisations – in particular for the chemical content of its airborne emissions. From the dusty clouds above comes officially sanctioned culture, presenting a ‘healthy’ spectacle for the masses. As Theodor Adorno asserted: “The culture industry intentionally integrates its consumers from above.” (8)

1) Pierre-Damien Huyghe, “Un appareil de travail”, in L’usine dans l’espace francilien, dir. Martine Tabeaud, Richard Conte et Yann Toma, Publications de la Sorbonne, 2001

2) “Belle comme une poubelle”, article paru dans l’édition dans Le Nouvel Observateur, le 13.06.1990

3) The blog of Nuage Vert:

4) “Le rayon vert divise Saint-Ouen”, Marie Lechner, Libération,

5) Reiner Keller, “Waste – the societal construction of the precious, The public debate about waste in Germany and France” (Müll – die gesellschaftliche Konstruktion des Wertvollen, Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 2 Auflage 2009

6) Programme de la Nuit Blanche 2012: “Jacqueline Dauriac présente son impressionnante installation lumineuse “Suivez mon panache rose”, intervention sur l’usine d’Ivry-sur-Seine”:

7) The title of Dauriac’s installation refers to a well known rallying cry of King Henry IV before going to battle “Suivez mon panache blanc”. The word panache refers to both the feathers on the Kings head and his aura. The Incinerator in Ivry-sur-Seine is the largest incinerator in France and could be called the king of incinerators.

8)Theodor Adorno, The Culture Industry, page 98, Routledge, 1991, New York

Video from Ivry-sur-Seine

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Non classé — HeHe @ 04:29 01/12/2010

Nuage Vert à Ivry from HeHe on Vimeo.

Green cloud escapes censure

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Non classé — HeHe @ 14:25 30/11/2010

From 6:30pm until 10:30pm on the 27 november 2010 - in subzero temperatures - a green halo appeared to come out of the enormous incinerator in Ivry-sur-Seine. This time nobody called the fire brigade and the police didn’t come - Just another night in the city of light…

A big thank-you to Stéphane Langlois, Vincent Guimas, Ewen Chardronnet, Anne, Maryam and Ashley from Ivry-sur-Seine for making this last edition possible.

Here are some pictures:

nv ivry
nv ivry
nv ivry

Nuage vert n°3

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Non classé — HeHe @ 13:56 19/11/2010

Today, we received the technical go ahead from the French civil aviation authority for a projection in Ivry and the new poster “Who’s afraid of Green cloud?” is ready to be fly-posted around town:
affiche pour Ivry

St-Ouen Council writes to the Waste Authority

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert — HeHe @ 11:27 10/06/2010

A leaked letter from the Maire of Saint Ouen addressed to the waste authority requesting that they withdraw their support for the project Nuage Vert on the grounds that “there is no indication nor guarantee that the proposed green smoke will be perceived clearly and positively by the population.”

Saint-Ouen council refuses (again)

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert — Ingrid @ 16:49 12/05/2010

Green Cloud in Helsinki, photo by HeHe

We are currently waiting for the answer of Saint-Ouen Council to lift the blocking of Nuage Vert in Saint Ouen so that it can happen in November, alongside a mediation campaign in local schools, during the European week for waste reduction.  The council cabinet met Tuesday, 11th of May but didn’t take any decision.

18th May 2010 - EDIT : Bad news for us today, the council cabinet still refuse to let Nuage vert take place. The interdiction form the prefecture of Seine Saint-Denis is still in place.

Green light from the waste authority 2010

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Négociations — Ingrid @ 14:53 14/04/2010

Arts&Environment COAL Prize

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Média — Ingrid @ 15:12 30/03/2010

Green Cloud have been chosen for the première of Arts&Environment COAL Prize. The prizegiving was on the 30th of March 2010, congratulations to the winner Thierry Boutonnier.

COAL promotes a new generation of artists involved on societal and environmental issues and supports the key role of creation and culture in raising consciousness and in ongoing changes. COAL is the alternative to the current discourse on sustainable development.

- -

Bring back Reality!

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Non classé, Regards Culturels — HeHe @ 13:58 17/02/2010

Nuage Vert just got diluted by the Berlin based branding agency REALITIES UNITED.

In their “artistic” statement you can read:
“At night, heat tracking lights will be used to position lasers onto the smoke rings turning them into glowing, communicative artworks … “.

But where is the art?

Sorry guys, but you copied and pasted a bit rough. We are not using heat tracking lights, but a thermographic camera.

All this is part of a ski park architecture on the roof of a new incinerator in Copenhagen, proposed by the Dänisch architecture group called “BIG”. Hey, did you not know that we will have to built smaller incinerators in the future not BIG ones.

Also, what does Bjarke Ingels means when he talks about “hedonistic sustainability“? Hedonistic, just like the bikini ladies on the roof of the iceberg incinerator? Should they not at least wear masks, incinerators usually emit quite strong smells, toxins. Also incinerators are quite hot inside, is that why the ladies wearing ony bikinis? Why are architects still allowed to put rendered atrocities into the world?

And look at this happy couple having a rest, after a long bicycle ride to see the new incinerator. Spot the error. Cloud rings emerging from incinerators, should be mostly (lets not talk about the rest here… ) hot steam, after washing the gases. These clouds should not be visible in warm temperatures, only in winter when they condense in the air. So, this Dänisch couple are quite tough cycling around in winter with skirts and T-shirt.

We want less waste and less branding and MoreReality!

HeHe’s Portable Nuclear Power Plant from 2009

Support us !

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert — Ingrid @ 10:14 28/09/2009

45 silkscreen prints  “Nuage Vert aura-t-il lieu”, 66 x 46 cm, signed and numbered. You can buy it for 50E, benefits will be reinvested for Green Cloud project.

contact {AT}

The Green Ray divides

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Média — Ingrid @ 11:24 03/06/2009

The Green Ray divides Saint-Ouen
A ‘wide angle’  article written by Marie Lechner has been published on June, 3rd 2009 in the french newspaper Libération.

Response from the Police (2009)

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Négociations — Ingrid @ 12:40 28/05/2009

  • 28 May 2009 – the day Nuage Vert was scheduled to open – we received this fax from the Police of Seine Saint-Denis. On technical grounds the project is validated.

However, I call your attention to the worry, or even panic, that this laser beam could provoke amongst the local population or road users, in the absence of any clear information about the purpose of the project.”
This letter also refers to “the risk of this event being wrongly interpreted and contribute to propagating, in the collective mind, a strongly negative image of the incinerator and the terms by which it is operated.”
Which is why, considering these elements, and the non-negligible risks of disturbance likely to be created by your initiative, and after in depth study, I can at this point only issue an unfavourable verdict about a new initiative of this type in the sky of Saint-Ouen.”

Heart of the debate?

Filed under: Média, Négociations — hehe.org2 @ 16:00 21/04/2009

Green Cloud in Helsinki, photo by HeHe

We are currently waiting for the answer of Saint-Ouen Council about their agreement with Nuage Vert project.  The Decision Committee met Tuesday, 11th of May but didn’t take any.

18th May 2010 - EDIT : Bad news for us today, Decision Committee still not supporting the project.

Response from the waste authority 2009

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Négociations — Ingrid @ 12:13 25/03/2009

“…a laser projection onto the vapour cloud of the incineration plant would risk to elicit misunderstandings, or even worry from members of the public, if they are not fully informed beforehand as to the meaning of this event…”

“These reasons have already led to the city of Saint-Ouen, who is one of our main partners, to inform you of their disagreement with the realisation of this project, and leads us to do the same today.”

A debate on incineration

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Média — Ingrid @ 16:13 20/03/2009

In a community hall in Saint-Ouen, against a background mural depicting an industrial town decoratively  cloaked in yellow plumes of smoke, people from Saint-Ouen debated the problems of waste and the alternatives to incineration.

Waste incinerator… What alternatives?
Waste & Environment Watch

On Monday 26 January, a working group was created on the theme: Waste / Incinerator, by eco-citizens, Convergence Citoyenne Association and the Greens of Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine.

It aims to reflect and act on:
- Reduction of waste associated with our lifestyle, consumption and production
- Assessment and reduction of adverse impacts on health by the incinerator which will be in operation until 2020 in our municipality.

With these issues, we wish to raise awareness for eco gestures and in collaboration to meet with industry, associations, businesses and municipalities, to propose and facilitate the implementation of concrete measures.

The first meeting - not to be missed - is during the week of National Sustainable Development 2009 (

Thursday April 2 from 20.30, Labor exchange,
30 Rue Ambroise Croizat


- Hervé Pernin, Waste engineer, Ademe - Ile de France
Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie

- Helen Bourges, Cniid
Centre national d’information indépendante sur les déchets

- Alain Rouault, Vice President of Syctom, Chairman of Sitom 93
Syndicat intercommunal de traitement des ordures ménagères 93

After the debate, we propose to continue the discussion around a friendly drink.
This working group is open to everyone, so do not hesitate to contact us: Isabelle de Kochko: Mail: convergence.citoyenne AT or Franck Rolland

Débat sur incinération from HeHe on Vimeo

A letter from the Council

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Négociations — Ingrid @ 12:08 26/01/2009

After 4 months of no reply, on the 7 Feb 2009 we received this letter from the Mairie :

“…I wish to inform you that the ville de Saint-Ouen will not take an active part in this original project, despite the relevance of its approach.”
the participatory process initiated by the Marie to create dialogue with local citizens has brought to light serious worries and questioning about the environmental and health effects of the incinerator. Therefore, you understand that it is difficult for us to work dispassionately on this project, and all the more so since the allotted time is short.“

Response from the waste authority 2005

Filed under: Actualité du projet Nuage Vert, Négociations — Ingrid @ 12:01 21/11/2005

Our first offical response to the project, from the SYCTOM – the public waste authority for Greater Paris area and owner of the power plant. The project is rejected on the grounds that it doesn’t fit in with their communication strategy.