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plastic bags - press release



37,000,000 plastic bags

Simon McAndrew   m:07931916183


DA! Gallery

18 Upper Grosvenor Street


Date: Ongoing

Open daily 10am-10pm

This exhibition is ongoing, until eviction, so please participate and bring along your stash of plastic bags when you visit!


37 Million plastic Bags (2008) is a new installation devised and initiated by Simon McAndrew, co-founder of the London-based squatting art collective DA!  To date, the group has made use of four venues in central London. Earlier locations included Kensington High Street, Knightsbridge and Tottenham Court Road. At DA!’s core is the concept of making use of derelict commercial properties to generate creative social space, and generate support and visibility for artists in all their media.

In tune with DA!’s ethos, McAndrew’s new project, 37 Million Plastic Bags, is an evolving and participatory work created in MADA!, the current DA! headquarters in Mayfair. The title of this piece derives from the number of new plastic bags being used in London every week. 37 Million Plastic Bags expands continuously as visitors bring their personal stash of bags to the gallery. “Every home in London has a massive stash of plastic carrier bags. It’s something which unites us,” Simon says.

The collected bags will be used to fill the abandoned rooms at MADA! Inspired by a reusable ‘Recycle for London’ bag, on which the figure of 37,000,000 was found, McAndrew brings to life this vast, unimaginable statistic and renders it tangible.

That the viewers are intrinsically involved in the creation of the work is vital for the following reasons: Firstly, we realise that individually we all contribute to the production of plastic bags.  This realisation is enhanced because, for the sake of the exhibit, we interact with the bags as objects in their own right rather than vessels. Secondly, it blurs the distinction between artist, artwork and visitor. This approach stems from McAndrew’s interest in theories of co-production, a set of values very much at the heart of DA!

From the initial act of clearing out drawers and cupboards, an action which the artist refers to as a type of ‘cleansing’, to the various journeys across London the plastic bags will take, to their arrival in the DA! space, to the communal construction of the artwork, and the social interactions that are played out around it and in response to it, we are made to acknowledge and change our habits. The visitors’ involvement as co-producer is therefore fundamental to the work’s progression, physically, aesthetically and conceptually.

What will become of all these plastic bags you may ask. The artist has contacted three of the UK’s largest supermarket chains. Not surprisingly their responses have been non-committal advice, at best. The artist is currently considering ways in which they can be re-used, for example, crocheting them into more sturdy, re-usable bags. Letters, responses and more info can be read at the tinyurl address above.


Crucial to DA!’s art events and gatherings is the DA! phone that lends itself to forging natural networks, which are immediate and intimate. For information about future DA! events or any of the artists involved, text the DA! phone: 0753 207 2087


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