Cigarette Butt Street Rug
2007. Sharjah Art Biennal, United Arab Emirates. Installation view at Souk Al Arsa, Sharjah Heritage Area. Commissioned and Produced by Sharjah Art Foundation.
As a commissioned project for the Sharjah Biennale, Negrón, along with street cleaners, collected used cigarette butts and turned them into a woven carpet. The resulting piece also included the documentation of the street cleaners at work and assistants fabricating it. The carpet is made out of the paper of discarded cigarettes, unrolled and layered on top of each other, while the design utilizes the yellow and white pieces from the paper to create a pattern similar to a woven textile rug. This work establishes a relationship to the local culture, while also relating to earlier recycled sculptures of oversized cigarette butts, the colillones. The decision to exhibit the rug in the Souq Al-Arsa, the popular local market of the city, instead of the biennale venue, followed the artist's intention to inscribe it in the context where it derived from.
"Cigarrete-butt Street-rug was produced as part of Jesús Bubu Negrón’s participation in the 8Th Sharjah Biennale in 2007. The artist was invited to participate in the biennale under the general theme of “Still Life, Art Ecology and Politics of Change.” After a preliminary trip to Sharjah and the rest of the United Arab Emirates, the artist decided to work on a piece that reflect not only the underlying theme of the biennale, related to ecology, but also the tensions around the class distinctions in the rapidly modernizing cities of the UAE, specially regarding guest workers, which are a somewhat taboo issue in the UAE. In this sense, he decided to employ the different guest workers (Muslims and non-Muslim) who work in the lower end of the labor pyramid in Sharjah in the recollection of cigarette-butts and later production of an “original” rug with this urban waste. As with many of his previous works, a labor-intensive object maps out a series of socioeconomics dynamics and tensions at play in a given context and inscribed in the formation of the work, literally in its fabric. Besides being socially conscious, the work also addresses the idea of the “other” and the persistence of stereotypes in terms of the representation of the other culture from a Western perspective."