Jean-Marie Perdrix at Samy Abraham/Paris

Jean-Marie Perdrix
Ferry Fétich e


Samy Abraham
43, rue Ramponeau 
75020 Paris

Credit photo Rebecca Fanuele
Images courtesy the artist and Samy Abraham gallery

For my new exhibition at the Galerie Samy Abraham, I’m showing two series of objects: totems and tables. I created them in Burkina Faso by recycling household plastic waste. They are melted down by hand and molded with a press. I work using this artisanal process in collaboration with a family of bronzeworkers who are old friends of mine.

The project began in 2002 with the creation of recycled plastic replicas of totemic figures (the forefather and the phallus) drawn from the history of Burkina Faso and from my personal legacy. The work on exhibit is the accumulation of this explicit form.

Following that project and in association with my Burkinian collaborators, my research turned toward the functioning of a typical workshop capable of producing useful objects from plastic waste in large quantities and at high quality. Thanks to financial aid from the Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques (National Foundation of Plastic and Graphic Arts) awarded in Spring 2015, I coordinated the development of a workshop in the capital, Ouagadougou, and launched the production of a series of school tables. 

The equipment is similar to that which is currently in use in a public primary school classroom in Burkina Faso that has 60 students per class, so, twenty tables with three children at each one. The operation is limited to the replacement of wooden parts with recycled plastic. The models produced have integrated benches, a legacy of colonialism that remains familiar to us today.  In France, it evokes the school of Jules Ferry. I love dealing with that as much as the other fetish I created. 
The three tables on display here act as witnesses to the success of the project. They are charged, just like masks or magical objects: they respond to a social function rendered obsolete now they find themselves displayed out of their context, as veritable art works. And yet, they are worth little without the accomplishment of that function, real or symbolic, according to the belief system we hold. 

The production of an initial set of thirty tables destined for an elementary school in Niocsin in Ouagadougou has allowed the fine-tuning of the equipment, the formation of a workforce, and the creation of life-size models.  From this experience, we are in the process of formulating concrete aims that will inform the establishment of a permanent atelier for the repurposing of household plastic waste. 

The project is founded on numerous objectives: the establishment of a workshop with three moulds and ten employees; the manufacturing of 2000 tables a year; the commercialization of production and the sale of the product to the primary schools of Burkina Faso; the manual collection of 100 tonnes of waste plastic from 20000 households in the town; the expansion of this collection project to reach a net worth of 100000000 CFA Francs, thereby strengthening the city’s economic situation; the cut in deforestation by 130 hectares per year; and the full provision of equipment for 6000 primary school pupils and around 100 classrooms. 

Following a popular uprising and a failed coup d’etat, Burkina Faso has democratically elected a new government following a 27-year long rule by the previous head of state. The new ruling party should take the opportunity to support the initiative. 

Jean-Marie Perdrix, January 2016 

This exhibition has benefitted from support from the National Foundation of Plastic and Graphic Arts.