trash-land-art in portugal

Marine litter, is it trash or treasure?  The answer at Plasticity Forum 2015 in Cascais, Portugal was definitely: Treasure! Plasticity is a yearly conference bringing together representatives of the plastic manufacturing industry as well as recycling industry, plastic researchers, designers, conservationists and municipal representatives to discuss the future of plastic and solutions for a sustainable life with plastic. Thanks to Doug Woodring, founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance, I was invited to create an environmental installation at the Plasticity Forum in order to raise awareness for marine pollution in Portugal. 

Here's a short version of the concept: Regarding the questions 'Where does it come from?' and 'Where is away?' the installation 'circle' gives a holistic answer showing the interconnectedness and continuum of all life as well as the implications of our human actions. The installation questions our value system by showing trash as something beautiful and valuable and challenging the viewer in his/her traditional believes: 'Is it still ugly? When did it become beautiful? Is this art or is this trash?' The magic of transforming trash into treasure becomes a visual and sensual experience. The goal of 'circle' to spark curiosity, to offer a different view-point and to trigger dialogue about plastic and marine pollution. Here are pictures of the making-process:

This was my very first trash-land-art installation outside of South-East Asia! Compared to Hong Kong the waste found on Portugal's beaches was not any different: Marine litter that gets washed ashore consists of things that floats and is pretty much the same all around the world. The quantity in Portugal is clearly less than in Hong Kong: 25 bags (50l) collected in 3 days on a 45 km stretch of beach but it is still too much. 

Pollution in Portugal in numbers:
cotton buds: 348
plastic bottles (water): 333
glass bottles (beer): 119
styrofoam boxes (fish bait): 131
plastic bottles (drinking yoghurt):  98
salt plastic bottles:  30

My gratitude to Doug Woodring of Ocean Recovery Alliance for inviting me to Plasticity!  An equally big thanks to ByFusion, a New York based environmental technology company for sponsoring my stay (waste as value & recovery as a solution - please visit www.byfusion.com). Thanks to all the volunteers for their time and enthusiasm as well as to Associação Portuguesa do LixoMarinho and Brigada do Mar for organizing all the prior logistics of collecting, sorting and storing trash/treasure. And last but not least I'm particulartly happy that the installation 'circle' will be reused for educational purposes in collaboration with Dr.Paula Sobral, professor for Environmental Studies at Nova Lisbon University.  May the ripples spread wide and far!


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