Mom! I Swallowed a Brick!

Over the weekend all of northern China was once again shrouded in eye-burning, lung-suffocating, soul-crushing smog. “Air-pocolypse,” they call it.

As I scrolled through my various news and social media feeds, it was pretty much the only story that people were talking about. If I hadn’t experienced such smog during my time living there (and on my visit to Beijing last week), I might not even believe the photos that were being posted.

This has to be one of my favorites:


But the absolute best story was the one about a performance artist, named Brother Nut, who walked around Beijing with a vacuum cleaner, sucking up the dirt and muck from the air, which he then formed into a brick!

Here’s how The New York Times reported on the story:

Beijing has been swamped for days in a beige-gray miasma of smog, bringing coughs and rasping, hospitals crowded from respiratory ailments, a midday sky so dim that it could pass for evening, and head-shaking disgust from residents who had hoped the city was over the worst of its chronic pollution.

But “Brother Nut,” a performance artist, has something solid to show from the acrid soup in the air: a brick of condensed pollution.

For 100 days, Brother Nut dragged a roaring, industrial-strength vacuum cleaner around the Chinese capital’s landmarks, sucking up dust from the atmosphere. He has mixed the accumulated gray gunk with red clay to create a small but potent symbol of the city’s air problems.


I guess this means that if you are in China and you feel like you’ve inhaled a brick, well…apparently, you have!

Way to go, Brother Nut!

Image credits: The Beijinger and The New York Times

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