Mutoid Waste Company

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Mutoid Waste Company
TypeTheatre group
PurposePerformance art

The Mutoid Waste Company was a performance arts group founded in West London, United Kingdom by Joe Rush and Robin Cooke in collaboration with Alan P Scott and Joshua Bowler. It started in the early 1980s, emerging from Frestonia's 'Car Breaker Gallery'[1][2] and continued until the 1990s, when it was based in Italy.

Influenced by the movie Mad Max and the popular Judge Dredd comics, they specialised in organising illegal parties in London throughout the 1980s, driven at first by eclectic assortments of fringe music such as psychedelic rock and dub reggae, but then embracing the burgeoning acid house music movement by the late 1980s.


Described as "part street theatre, part art show and part traveling circus" in the 1986 LWT documentary South of Watford presented by Hugh Laurie.[3][4][5]

The group became famous for building giant welded sculptures from waste materials and for customising broken down cars, as well as making large scale murals in the disused buildings where they held their parties.

In 1989, after a number of police raids on their warehouse in King's Cross, they left the country and travelled to Germany where they became notorious for building giant sculptures out of old machinery and car parts,[6] one of which was 'Käferman', a giant human figure with a Volkswagen Beetle for its chest, offering a Bird Of Peace sculpture that overlooked the Berlin Wall towards East Berlin and the regime of East Germany. They had a collection of scrap military vehicles, including a Russian MiG 21 fighter aircraft which 'followed' them around wherever they went, and a painted tank known as "the Pink Panzer".[7]

Lady Emma Herbert, daughter of Henry Herbert, 17th Earl of Pembroke, met the Mutoids at about this time. They taught her acrobatic skills and she toured Europe with them, which was the beginning of her career as a circus trapeze artist.[8]

In the early 1990s the Mutoids moved to Santarcangelo di Romagna, where they set up a scrap village called Mutonia and continued working, displaying and performing at squats and libertarian celebrations in the Emilia-Romagna region.

In recent years, the Mutoids have re-appeared at a number of British festivals and arts events, with displays of their distinctive vehicle sculptures, and they were a key part of the closing ceremony for the 2012 Summer Paralympics.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ PORTOBELLO FILM FESTIVAL 2006 Counter Culture Portobello Psychogeographical History by Tom Vague.
  2. ^ Passport to Frestonia: Photo documentation of the ‘free state’ of Frestonia
  3. ^ "The Mutoid Waste Company". British Film Institute. 1986.
  4. ^ Mutoid Documentary I
  5. ^ Mutoid Documentary II
  6. ^ Young, Ian (7 Feb 2013). It's Not About Me!. Anoma Press.
  7. ^ The Pink Panzer, Fotofinder
  8. ^ Jack Grimston and Julia Llewellyn Smith, Focus: Orf to the circus, The Sunday Times, December 14, 2003
  9. ^ Gibson, Owen (September 8, 2012). "Paralympics closing ceremony will be 'festival of flame' and Coldplay". The Guardian. Retrieved September 8, 2012. The ceremony will also feature a battalion of 'eccentric travellers' storming the stage along with futuristic Mad Max-style vehicles from performance art group the Mutoid Waste Company.

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