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This is Sian Ka'an.
Just south of Tulum on Mexico's Caribbean coast,
it's a federally protected reserve,
a UNESCO World Heritage Site
and one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet.
But when I first visited in 2010,
I was horrified and completely confused
as to why the beach was covered in trash.
I soon realized that it was floating in from all over the world.
I've since returned, after that first journey,
several times a year
to visit Sian Ka'an, to the country of my birth,
to work with this trash.
And so far,
we've documented garbage from 58 different countries and territories
on six continents,
all washing ashore in this paradise in Mexico.
Although I can never know where a product was dropped,
I can, at times, based on the label, know where something was made.
In red, you see all of the countries represented by their trash
in Sian Ka'an.
Such as these Haitian butter containers in all shapes and sizes,
Jamaican water bottles.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the stuff is from neighboring Caribbean countries,
but the stuff is from everywhere.
Here's a sampling of international water bottles.
And one of the ironies is that a lot of what I'm finding
are products for cleaning and beautification,
such as this item from the United States,
which is actually made to protect your plastic,
shampoo from South Korea,
bleach from Costa Rica
and a Norwegian toilet cleaner.
And it's items that are all very familiar to us,
or at least I hope you're familiar with these toothbrushes.
Kitchen utensils.
I'm also finding evidence of burning plastic trash,
which releases cancer-causing fumes into the air.
People ask what's the most interesting item that I've found,
and that's by far this prosthetic leg.
And in the background, if you can see that blue little bottle cap,
at the time that I found it,
it was actually the home to this little hermit crab.
This guy is so cute.
And it's these fascinating objects,
but also horrifying objects,
each with their own history,
that I use to make my ephemeral, environmental artworks.
And it all started with this image in February of 2010,
when I first visited Sian Ka'an.
I noticed that blue was the most prevalent color among the plastic.
Purple is actually the most rare color. It's kind of like gold to me.
But blue is the most prevalent,
and so I gathered some of the blues
and made this little arrangement in front of the blue sky
and blue Caribbean waters.
And when I took a photograph and looked at the test shot,
it was like a lightning bolt hit me in that moment,
and I knew I was going to have to come back
to create a whole series of installations on location
and photograph them.
So this turned out to be a sketch
for a work that I completed three years later.
I had no idea that almost 10 years later,
almost a decade later, I'd still be working on it.
But the problem persists.
So I'm going to show you some of the images
from the series that I called "Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape."
Please keep in mind that I do not paint the garbage.
I'm collecting it and organizing it by color
on the same beaches where I find it.
This is my precious trash pile as seen in 2015
after putting on a first edition of the "Museo de la Basura,"
or "Museum of Garbage."
It's fully my intention to care for this garbage,
to exalt it,
put it on a pedestal
and to curate it.
We have all seen devastating images
of animals dying with plastic in their bellies.
And it's so important for us to really see those
and to take those in.
But it's by making aesthetic -- some might say beautiful -- arrangements
out of the world's waste,
that I'm trying to hook the viewer
to draw in those that might be numb to the horrors of the world
and give them a different way to understand what's happening.
Some have described the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
as an island twice the size of Texas,
but I've been told that it's hard to see
because it's more like a smog.
So through my artwork,
I attempt to depict the reality of what's happening with our environment
and to make the invisible visible.
My key question at first, after starting the project,
was, "What do I do with the garbage when I'm done?"
I was told by some that it could be damaged goods
after traveling across the ocean and being exposed to the elements,
that it could become degraded and potentially ruin a batch of recycling.
The landfill was not a happy resting place, either.
And then finally, it dawned on me,
after all of the effort by me and all of the people who have helped me
collect and organize and clean this trash,
that I should keep it.
And so that's the plan,
to use it and to reuse it endlessly
to make more artwork
and to engage communities in environmental art-making.
This is an example of a community-based artwork that we did last year
with the local youth of Punta Allen in Sian Ka'an.
A key part of the community work are the beach cleans
and education programming.
And as this community around the project grows
and as my trash collection grows,
I really believe that the impact will as well.
And so, over the years,
I've become a little obsessed with my trash collection.
I pack it into suitcases and travel with it.
I take it on vacation with me.
And in the latest work,
I've begun to break the two-dimensional plane of the photograph.
I'm really excited about this new work.
I see these as living artworks
that will morph and grow over time.
Although my greatest wish is that I run out of the raw material
for this work,
we're not there yet.
So in the next phase of the project,
I plan on continuing the community work
and making my own work at a much larger scale,
because the problem is massive.
Eight million tons of plastic waste enter our oceans every year,
destroying ecosystems.
Right now, as I speak, there's literally an oil spill of plastic happening.
I see this project as a plea for help and a call to action.
Our health and future is inextricably linked
to that of our oceans.
I call the project "Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape,"
but it's actually transformed me
and made me rethink my own behaviors and consumption.
And if it can help anybody else gain more awareness,
then it will have been worthwhile.
Thank you so much.
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【TED】Alejandro Durán: How I use art to tackle plastic pollution in our oceans (How I use art to tackle plastic pollution in our oceans | Alejandro Durán)

24 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on January 3, 2020
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