Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"With us or against us" lamp

The US Embassy in Managua donated hundreds of these white plastic quasi-cylindrical containers to the NGO that hosts Nicology. The NGO used a few as pencil-holders, but couldn't find any further use for them, especially as there was a small hole at either end. They were on the verge of selling the rest to recycled materials consolidators at the dump when I walked into the office and saw... lampshades! If Ikea can do it, why couldn't we? This is one of our first experiments, using a piece of driftwood as a base. My collaborator, an electrician who also scavenges in the dump, created additional bases out of cologne bottles shaped like cowboy boots, and we tried a few pendant and wall lamps using multiple shades.

Then one day I opened a new box of shades, and an instruction card fell out that. Gas Masks! These were the shipping containers for the hundreds of gas masks supplied to the US embassy! The Embassy workers were protected in the event of a biological agent, nerve gas, or other aerosol attack, in NICARAGUA, but when I called the US Citizen Emergency line during a riot after my passport was stolen, it went directly to voice mail. For over 12 hours. At least you can buy a lamp!

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