We’ve seen shipping containers transformed into a source of disaster relief for stranded Haitians, an awesome studio in San Antonio, and even a temporary classroom – but this is the first time we’ve seen them used as a form of civil disobedience. In order to protest against the United States’ national debt, artist and Arkansas State University teacher John Salvest painstakingly arranged over 100 red, white, and blue shipping containers on a piece of property facing the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Employees who look out the window every day see the letters “IOU” spelled out on the 7 story installation, while passersby on the other side see “USA”.
Salvest’s bold artistic vision was funded by the non-profit organization Grand Arts. According to Treehugger, renting just over 100 containers, installing them on site with a large crane, and ensuring round-the-clock security has been the group’s largest venture to date. Was it worth it? Responses have been mixed. Many residents feel that it was a waste of money, while others consider this protest to be a continuation of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement.
In either case, used and battered shipping containers not only symbolize an excessive consumer culture that has enslaved 27 million people worldwide, they also waste natural resources. It’s good to see them being re-purposed – especially for a good cause!