A cool afternoon at sea. Mom, dad with their son and their daughter. The clear sky, the light and peaceful breeze, the pleasant feeling of grains of sand under the feet. Then, a little farther on, a vomiting seagull. It vomits a large amount of plastic. Next to the little girl another dying winged animal in a puddle of what it regurgitated. Another plastic with a visible cap of Coca-Cola. It may sound disgusting, this picture apparently peaceful can turn up their noses. And it must be like this, it has to provoke a reaction. “Plasticide” is the latest work by Jason Taylor deCaires, a sculptor who made the first museum entirely under oceanic water. Despite not having operated in the water, this time, it is always the marine ecosystem in the center of his latest work. Placed in front of the Royal National Theater in London, a place crossed daily by thousands of citizens, the sculpture is an openly critical against pollution caused by plastic waste.
Plasticide, whose pun is easily understanding, illustrates a stark reality: a family moment of relax is interrupted by a dystopian vision of the future, a future in which, as currently provided by studies and campaigns of environmental groups, the plastic exceed the fish in the oceans by 2050. In addition to the serious environmental consequences, seabirds, right now, confuse the plastic with edible food. The pollution of our seas is reaching a crisis point and sculpture in his mocking hardness is a reprimand, a warning of the potential horror caused by useless management of waste.
The sculpture, made in collaboration with Greenpeace, weighs two tons and a half, and the artist has really used plastic debris found on some beaches. Louise Edge, head of Greenpeace campaigns in Europe, said: «We are proud to work with Jason Taylor deCaires. Studies have shown that 90 percent of seabirds now have plastic in their stomachs. The problem highlighted in this sculpture would have seemed surreal fifty years ago, but it’s now a grim reality. All plastic is made on land and it’s here we need to see action to reduce the flow of plastic into our oceans».
But what is exactly vast this flow? A study published in 2015 in the journal Science, after analyzing 192 countries, estimated that about 8 million tons of plastic debris end up in the sea, «five grocery bags full of plastic on every foot of coastline in the 192 countries we examined» explains Jenna Jambeck, environmental engineering professor at the University of Georgia, involved in the study. According to Jambeck a majority of the top offenders when it comes to oceanic plastic pollution are Asian nations, with China in the number one spot. Brazil and Egypt are also large contributors while the United States ranks at number 20.
In 2015, Jason Taylor deCaires created another iconic work, also in London on a bank of the Thames near the Vauxhall Bridge and not far from Westminster. It’s called “The Rising Tide”, it is visible when there is high tide and is a remake of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Men in suits, symbol of political and economic power, in fact, are riding on horses whose head is replaced by the pump used for oil extraction. The dismal performance is a reference to the negative impact caused by the use of disproportionate and excessive fossil fuels.
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