Over the past few months, China has been choked by some of the worst levels of air pollution it’s ever seen. Smog has been a problem in China’s major cities for some time, however, the east Asian powerhouse continues to give in to its unquenchable appetite for coal, greatly exacerbating the situation.
To help raise awareness of the issue, performance artist Wang Renzheung – known as Brother Nut – has attempted to make the problem more tangible by making a solid brick out of the capital city's smog.
In his venture, called “Project Dust,” he dragged an industrial vacuum cleaner around Beijing for 100 days. Eventually, he had collected enough micro-particles to create a solid brick of smog.
“In smog like this, there’s no escaping,” Brother Nut said to the New York Times.
“What I’ve done is like Sisyphus rolling his giant stone. There’s no use, but it can make more people think about this issue. It’s a spiritual thing.”
Brother Nut has also published an online photo gallery of the process of him trawling the city with the vacuum.
"Project Dust" has hit the western media at an appropriate time, neatly coinciding with the UN climate change talks, which started earlier this week in Paris.
Current air pollution levels in China’s cities will be of particular concern at the talks. The past few weeks have seen a particularly bad spate of smog in Beijing. Along with toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, the smog contains thousands of solid microparticles known as PM 2.5.
The World Health Organization considers “safe levels” of pollution as 25 micrograms of these microparticles for every cubic meter of air. On November 29, 2015, Beijing had an astonishing 666 micrograms per cubic meter.