the urban oasis art installation

That was my immediate thought when I saw this push-cart display: an elderly pensioner picking through skips and rubbish tips and bundling stacks of recyclable cardboard to be sold later for small change. This phenomenon is unique to the territory but hardly raise an eyebrow. More importantly, it reveals one of the many social issues resulted in an aging population. Last year the Census and Statistics Department estimated some 293,800 elderly living below the poverty threshold after taking in welfare allowance and pension; given that each 1/2 kilo of cardboard only pays 50 cents, making ends meet in such manner is no small feat.

The construction of this cardboard cart comes with two 50 cents coin slots; one leads a short route and the coin reaches the collection box quickly, whereas the other slot leads a more convoluted path which has a number of holes along the way to give a glimpse of the coin trotting along its way to the collection box. How far are you willing to travel to make 50 cents?

There was an interview on the news with one such cardboard recycling elderly woman. With her back bent from years of labour, she jokingly said “as long as I still have my 20 friends (digits), there is no need to rely on welfare; it does not matter either whether I make a lot as long as it’s enough to live by. “ Wise-words that perhaps only a few could comprehend?

Completed in 2015