There are few beaches in the world you can walk along and not find trash that has washed up littering its shores. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), around 80 percent of marine litter originates on land. And most of that litter is plastic. Seabirds, sea turtles, whales, and other marine life are consuming plastic pollution and dying from choking, intestinal blockage, and starvation. It doesn’t just affect our environment, it affects our economy. Scientists have been investigating the long-term impacts of toxic pollutants absorbed, transported, and consumed by fish and other marine life, including the potential effects it has on the people who are consuming the fish. Alejandro Durán is an artist working in Brooklyn, NY. His project “Washed Up” addresses the issue of plastic pollution making its way across the ocean and onto the shores of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally protected reserve. When looking at these photographs you might be shocked at all of the trash he collected for this project. And if you are not, then you might want to ask yourself why that is.
He stated that at times he would distribute the objects the way the waves would.
At other times, the plastic takes on the shape of algae, roots, rivers, or fruit reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment.
According to Durán, he has found trash from 50 nations on 6 continents while walking the coast of Sian Ka’an.
The exhibition of the Washed Up series opened on Earth Day. Well isn’t that extremely appropriate.
With more than twenty pre-Columbian archaeological sites, this UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to a vast array of flora and fauna and the world’s second largest coastal barrier reef.
In a statement Durán said, “More than creating a surreal or fantastical landscape, these installations mirror the reality of our current environmental predicament. The resulting photo series depicts a new form of colonization by consumerism, where even undeveloped land is not safe from the far-reaching impact of our disposable culture.”
“The alchemy of Washed Up lies not only in converting a trashed landscape, but in the project’s potential to raise awareness and change our relationship to consumption and waste.”
Alejandro Durán was born in Mexico City in 1974.
Durán is a multimedia artist working in photography, installation, and video.
The installations are photographed with a large format camera, using 4 x 5 color negative film. Exhibition prints are 40” x 52” archival pigment prints. A short documentary film also accompanies the current exhibition.
Plastic pollution affects every waterway including the sea, lakes, and rivers in the world. What is the solution to this problem? It seems that one of the best ways to keep plastic pollution out of our oceans would be to make sure it never reaches the water in the first place. It has been suggested that we all need to do our fair share to stop plastic pollution. Individuals would need to recycle and never litter. Producers of single use plastic packaging need to do more too. We need producers to design packaging so that it is fully recyclable, and so there is less waste like this coffee cup manufacturer. We also need producers to help cover the costs of keeping their products out of the ocean. There is a lot that can be done. Durán raising awareness in this beautiful and attention grabbing way is absolutely helpful. I might also add that while looking at these photographs the germaphobe in me thought to myself, I hope he wore gloves.