Depositing random pieces of plastic in places where they do not belong is generally considered littering, except when it is considered art!
German artist Jan Vormann has been traveling the world for the last six years, filling in gaps in crumbling buildings, streets, and bridges with Lego pieces. I would not call him a chronic litterer, but I would call him a better citizen than most people. An interactive map on his website displays snapshots from the nearly 40 cities he has visited in the US, Europe, Central America, and Asia. It's possible you have already heard of Vormann and his incredibly joyful eccentricity, but I stumbled upon him merely this afternoon, and he has already made my life measurably better.
His project is delightful for so many reasons — Lego are a cultural shorthand for creativity and play all over the world (and I was not paid to say that by a brand!); Lego make ugly things look nicer, because pops of accent color improve all aesthetics (just ask Stacy London and Clinton Kelly of TLC's classic reality program What Not to Wear!); and chances are that Vormann's luggage was randomly searched at some point, leading an unsuspecting TSA agent to open his suitcase and stumble upon a mere zillions of Lego (squeal!).
what do you even contribute, if you're honest with yourself?
Vormann told Hi-Fructose that he looks for buildings with historical significance, often ones haunted by a horrific political past (e.g. a train station in Berlin from which many Jewish citizens were deported during World War II). Vormann explains that the Lego aren't meant to emphasize the darkness of old wars, but add "a kind of colorful part of contemporary times; a material that everybody worldwide has the same feeling on it."
Vormann often enlists the help of students and families, who volunteer to spend the day playing with Lego in the streets with him. Imagine if instead of sitting in my apartment, watching Vanderpump Rules reruns for 10 hours per Saturday and slowly developing a deep distrust of all humankind, I spent those hours outside, caring for neglected infrastructure and adding a dose of whimsy to the lives of millions. Can you imagine? I truly cannot, but I'm glad that someone else is doing it.
This isn't the only time that Lego and street art have mixed — a possible copy-cat artist (oh, well!) named Nate Swain took to filling in gaps in an old brick building in Boston earlier this month, telling NPR, "I just wanna make people laugh." Don't we all, Nate. Good for you, even though you might be a copier.
Vormann's work was spotlighted in the 2014 Lego documentary, Beyond the Brick, which you can watch if you want to learn a whole lot more about multi-colored plastic bricks and the delightful man who is sprinkling them all over the Earth! I hope you enjoy the rest of Tax Day 2016 with a slightly lighter heart.