Death by Plastic
2019—ongoingREAD IMPORTANT INFO ON SINGLE USE PLASTICS HERE
New York City
Death by Plastic
My ongoing environmental concerns led me to address the urgent single use plastics crisis, a leading cause of pollution and climate change on the planet. For decades prosperous nations were sending their plastics to China, but their recent refusal to accept these materials is a wakeup call for all countries faced with not only a glut of plastic but also a lack of infrastructure to process them. Part of the problem is that as consumers we have become incredibly lazy. The larger issue, however, is that corporations keep producing and wrapping products in plastics which are often not recyclable. The result of my research is a new series titled “Death by Plastic.”
In the summer of 2019, I performed “Death by Plastic” for the first time in Moab, Utah, a small community seasonally infiltrated by tourists who come to explore the extraordinary pristine landscapes but leave behind large quantities of refuse. I have been creating art in the area for twenty years and when I discovered that only plastics #1 and #2 were being recycled, and everything else was being landfilled, I felt like I had been hit by lightning. After a sleepless night, I decided to build a clear casket where my body would lay covered by plastics 3,4,5,6 and 7, which were longer be recycled. The work was photographed on the Moab landfill, where the plastics would eventually end up.
On November of the same year, my body rested in the casket filled with fishing nets and single use plastics, as a gondola carried it silently across the canals of Venice, Italy. Venice is facing similar issues to Moab but on a grander scale. Thousands of tourists invade the city daily, leaving behind tons of waste, much of which is single-use plastic bottles.
In July of 2021, still reeling from the pandemic and its optics, namely in the form of single use masks, a glut of takeout containers, and packaging materials, I decided to perform “Death by Plastic” in my hometown of New York City as a funeral procession down Fifth Avenue.
We need to make a significant paradigm shift and be willing to change our habits - as consumers, as product and packaging designers, and as corporations. This piece came about from a feeling of helplessness (in terms of my own consumerism), but also as a way of drawing attention to the items that we think (or hope) are getting recycled and are instead being landfilled. Our planet is being smothered in plastic and unless we find solutions very soon there will no way out.
Death by Plastic Eulogy
We are gathered here to mourn the state of the planet, our home, a place where
climate change is causing torrential rains and scorching fires.
Have you noticed?
We are here to mourn oceans and rivers filled with plastics and debris.
We are here to mourn beaches which are no longer pristine.
We are here to mourn the fish who are feeding off microplastics rather than plankton.
We are here to mourn the whales who are dying with their bellies full of plastic.
We stand here in the realization that we each ingest a credit card worth of
plastic every week through the foods and drinks we consume,
and that those microplastics may end up in human placenta and sperm.
The very essence of human life is in jeopardy.
Unless we come up with alternate solutions to single use plastics, the very composition of our bodies will be irreversibly changed and the planet we live on will be so toxic and polluted that life as we know it will no longer be possible.
Please join me in the procession.