The installation by Markus Jeschaunig and Wolfgang Oeggl represents the 70,000 tons of bread that end up in the trash.
‘Arc de Triomphe – From the Waste of a Civilization’ is an installation made of dry bread, metal, wood and concrete that was displayed in Graz, Austria. The concept and realization of the arch was carried out by Markus Jeschaunig and Wolfgang Oeggl and it was designed to symbolize the pitfalls of a consumer society that needs less than it purchases.
The alternative Arc de Triomphe represented all the tons of edible bread that ends up in the trash when so many people in the world are going hungry. The bread featured in the arch was collected over a period of five weeks from bakeries, supermarkets and waste containers, rather than from charitable or recycling organizations.
The 4.75m high, 1.5m wide and 5m long form of the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ contained a volume of 20,19 cubic meters and was made of metal grids and a wooden substructure including weights of concrete. Around 2.5 tons of dry waste bread was collected, in small quantities at a time.
The installation shines a spotlight on a dark aspect of our behavior: waste production. Designer and sustainability advocate Markus Jeschaunig writes on his blog that the consumer society lives by the idea that resources are available indefinitely. As a result, we consume more than we need and less than we buy.
In Austria, a country with about 8 million inhabitants, 170,000 tons of food ends up in the trash each year, with 70,000 tons of that being bread. Large amounts of resources are required for the production, transport and disposal of goods and foods. Wasting these resources raises questions about consumer behavior. The amount of wasted food in Europe could feed twice the number of hungry people in the world, so a new balance between economy and ecology is needed.
At the opening in 2012, a discussion was held with representatives from local bakeries, waste institutions, charities and gastronomy. Following the end of the installation’s run, the old bread was given to a biogas plant and converted into electricity. The project was also awarded the Environmental Award of the City of Graz.