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

Module 1 / Factory Clouds

Filed under: Non classé — HeHe @ 11:15 20/04/2011

Module 01, Factory Clouds
ManMade Clouds

The exhibition at Galerie Ars Longa in Paris is the first of a series of informal presentations acting as a preparation for the forth-coming book “Man Made Clouds” by Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen (HeHe), and presents a selection from their ongoing poster collection. Following on from the first exhibit as part of the Nuage vert project at Mal au Pixel in Mains d’Œuvres, Saint Ouen in 2009, this time 22 posters are exhibited.

Although the images in the collection are diverse, taken from a range of contexts, they share a motif that is both curious and specific to this exhibition: All of the posters depict a factory and its industrial emissions. In each poster, the emissions take on an imaginary form to carry a particular message. In the exhibition, the factory emission comes alive as a fist, a flag, a tree or a celebrity. As an ensemble they represent an eclectic mix of symbols, stemming from different contexts and allowing a multitude of readings. Together they make us aware of the ever-changing representation of our made-made industrial emissions within the politics, activist movement, pop culture and art of the 20th century.

The most well-known and valuable piece in the collection is probably the original Atelier Populaire poster from the workshop at the Beaux Art de Paris, which produced the posters for the 1968 street uprisings. The cheapest might be the reprinted poster that was provided in digital format to us by Hacklab in Copenhagen, a protest poster against the UN Climate conference in Denmark, 2009. The work of Klaus Staeck is present with three posters, including his depiction of Germanys chancellor Angela Merkel - complete with glowing eyes - as she emerges from the clouds of an atomic cooling tower (Strahlende Zukunft, 2005), which matches perfectly with the poster featuring the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hovering in the clouds above an architectural hybrid of Auschwitz and a nuclear power plant (Ich will den atomaren Holocaust, 2007).

The collection hung on the walls of the gallery is accompanied by black and white A4 prints of other posters and imagery of factory clouds, collected by HeHe in digital format.

The Man Made Clouds book is scheduled to be published in the beginning of 2012 together with Editions-HYX Orléans.

The Posters in the exhibition

Norrköping. Sveriges = Manchester, Anonyme, 1930, re-produced by the Museum of Work Norrköping

Travailleurs - La lutte continue, L’Atelier Populaire, 1968

Latvijai Ekologisku Nakotni, Hubert Hoffmann, 1980

Hier stirbt der Wald, Hubert Hoffmann, 1980

Heute Tannen, morgen wir
, Hubert Hoffmann, 1980

Endlich die Arbeit gerechter verteilen
, Klaus Staeck, 1985

Bitterfeld 4400, Kleine Humbolt Gallerie, Oskar Manigk, 1989

Saubere Energie aus der Steckdose. Ihre Elektrizitätswerke, Klaus Staeck, 1992

Strahlende Zukunft, Klaus Staeck, 2005

Push the Button, The Chemical Brothers, 2005

Die Wolke (Affiche du film), 2006

An Inconvenient truth, The Ant Farm, 2006

Ich will den atomaren Holocaust, Il-Israel, 2007

Vihreä pilvi, de Valence, 2008

Pixelache University, Wojtek Mejor, 2008

Anti-Flag, Anti Flag, 2009

Nuage Vert aura-t-il-lieu?, Nina Heydorn, 2009

Our climate, not your business,, 2009

National Art Hate Week, Harry Adams, 2010

Inflammable, Compagnie Jolie Môme, Thierry Gatinet, Theatre Belle Etoile, 2010

Qui a peur du Nuage Vert?, HeHe, 2010

Incinération des déchets, quels risques pour la santé publique?, Philippe Bretelle, 2010

In collaboration with:

Editions HYX /
ArsLonga /
Pollinaria /
Art outsiders /

More Greenwashing from Germany

Filed under: Non classé — HeHe @ 16:59 18/02/2011

Another “artist” at work ….

Photo credit Nina Heydorn

Advertisement for Entega, the people behind the dubious snow man event in Berlin, among others …

Air of Paris

Filed under: Non classé — HeHe @ 22:40 06/01/2011

Images by Sébastien Lapeyre, director of Cniid:




An image by Mathieu Marguerin, the man behind Mal au Pixel, showing a
view from the Paris peripherique:

Two more photos by filmaker Yuki Kawamura:


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.

“Designer trash” workshop at IAV in Orleans

Filed under: Interventions / Collaborations / Workshops — Ingrid @ 10:56


Last week we were in Orleans - Institut d’Art Visuel to run a one week workshop with students called “Designer-Trash”, which aimed to find new ways of thinking about the issue of waste. Waste carries negative values and as waste production grows, the more there is a need to hide it from view and to destroy it. But what other ways can we treat waste? The overarching theme put forward by the director of the school for this week of workshops was ‘discretion’… which fits well to the way we usually like to think about waste.

The workshop was a space for waste utopias to become a reality : from industrial design products made from waste products and activist posters to artistic and ironical happenings in public spaces.

Rich Spring - Printemps de richesse

Filed under: Interventions / Collaborations / Workshops — Ingrid @ 17:01 11/05/2010

Printemps de richesse is an weekend event to promote artistic and political exchanges, a space for sensitive and intelligent ideas which have the right priorities. It took place at Mains d’Oeuvres & l’Espace 1789 in Saint-Ouen.

Workshop : “La plus belle poubelle : Inventing metaphors about waste - for the Green Cloud project / animated by Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen”


(c) Vinciane Verguethen


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}

Festival Mal au Pixel 2009

Filed under: Interventions / Collaborations / Workshops — Ingrid @ 16:55 06/06/2009

From the exhibition in Mains d’Ouevres, Saint-Ouen

Poster collection :

Norrköping. Sveriges = Manchester
« Norrköping Suède = Manchester »
Author : Anonymous, 1930, Norrköping Museum copy

Saubere Energie aus der Steckdose. Ihre Elektrizitätswerke
« Clean energy comes out from socker. Your power plant. »
Author : Klaus Staeck, 1992

Workers - The fight will go on
Author : L’Atelier Populaire, 1968

Endlich die Arbeit gerechter verteilen
« Work fairly divided at least »
Author : Klaus Staeck, 1985

An Inconvenient truth
Author : The Ant Farm, 2006

Vihreä pilvi
« Green Cloud »
Author : de Valence, 2008

Pixelache University
Author : Wojtek Mejor, 2008

Will Green Cloud be ?
Author : Nina Heydorn, 2009

Poster workshop

Filed under: Interventions / Collaborations / Workshops — Ingrid @ 15:55 05/06/2009

This is five beautiful posters of CM1 pupils in Anne Wurm’s class at Jolio Curie school, St-Ouen. This workshop has been organized by Vanessa à Mains d’Oeuvres.

“Sort the recycling!” par Chaïma, Fanny, Kenza, Tara, Aicha

“Candy Cloud” par Bilel, Oumeima, Nelson, Célia, Kévin

“Head Cloud eating Earth” par Ulysse, Hugo, Khelifa, Ahmed, Mathis

“Stop polluting” par Lorenzo, Sherley, Christelle, Kathy, Florent

“Clean Present of Clean Future ?” par Ludvina, Anis, Claudia, Mélany, Rayanna

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.

Hunderwasser Vienna

Filed under: Regards Culturels — Ingrid @ 13:04 29/05/2009

The incinerator in the city center of Vienna, that councillors from the world over flock to see, which has become an accepted part of the life in the city.

photo par postpunkkitchen

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.”

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