Return to Video

How I use art to tackle plastic pollution in our oceans

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

more » « less
Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
07:17

English subtitles

Revisions Compare revisions