Saatchi’s Garbage War

Mindful that trash has been presented nobly in galleries as “found art,” Felipe Bascope was careful “not to overly art direct” the billboards going up this week near the Pacific Coast Highway and on Belmont Shores in Southern California beach cities. He wanted the 3-D material mounted on the boards to look exactly like what it is—garbage, collected in a single day of beach cleanup.

The boards are for the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to preserving the nation’s oceans, waves and beaches. Bascope, a lifetime surfer and also associate creative director at Surfrider’s pro bono agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, collected the trash with his body- surfing partner at Saatchi, Michael Reginelli, and a handful of other devoted beachcombers. The refuse included ladders, 50- gallon drums, refrigerator doors, fast-food trays, buoys, umbrellas, bike racks and broken beach chairs. “I found a vial of blood, too, and an [IV] needle,” says Bascope, who works on Toyota ads at the Torrance, Calif., agency. Selected pieces were mounted by outdoor specialists Scenario on boards donated by Viacom; they will stay up for the next month. Copy reads: “Found in Long Beach. August 20, 2005.”

Bascope, who has traveled (and surfed) all over the world, says Angelenos could learn a little something from Costa Ricans, who are taught from grade school on that despoiling the beach is wrong. The boards were scheduled to come up with the sun on Monday morning. Bascope was confident that it wouldn’t be pretty.