Rejin Leys / Eun Woo Nam

An artist and art educator, Rejin Leys adopts the process of recycling paper as a way of making her performative art. Out of junk mail and flyers, she recreates new colored paper that can be used for drawing and art making. PulpMobile, her movable installation in Jamaica Flux 2016, is a paper-recycling workstation on a cart. By fully stocking the cart with paper, the artist becomes an art vendor who offers papermaking workshops to children and families, free of charge, in public places such as sidewalks, the 165th Pedestrian Mall plaza, Queens Central Library, and King Manor Park in Jamaica, Queens.

The PulpMobile carries many meanings, though two aspects immediately stand out as relevant. The project aims to raise public awareness of critical environmental issues. Because of our consumption-driven economic system, the US surpasses all other continents and produces the largest amount of waste on the earth. Disposable paper cups and plates, using paper sheets only on one side instead of both sides, and endless distribution of advertising flyers are only a few examples that raise eyebrows. Ley’s PulpMobile critically examines the value of materials in our society and questions how materials are consumed excessively without any consideration of their environmental impact. Paper is used for just a few seconds and is then thrown away everywhere—in offices, at home, and at school. Ley’s work implicitly criticizes our consumption patterns and suggests reconsideration of the way we use paper.

From a social point of view, PulpMobile focuses on community engagement. By offering hands-on performative workshops, the artist calls for local community members to join in the papermaking process. People come together and make paper in cooperation and collaboration. Considering the diverse population in the community, the project adds to a politicoethical dimension of community building. Coming from different cultures, immigrants rarely receive an opportunity to do something together due to a language barrier or cultural differences. While participating in this art workshop and making paper together, community members build positive relationships by getting to know each other. PulpMobile shows Ley’s utopian attempt to create an ideal community.

Eun Woo Nam