On National Cleanup Day last September, I became aware of the amount of plastic in the environment, including discarded masks and gloves, as I picked up litter in my neighbourhood and along the shoreline. Also exacerbated by the pandemic, I observed that more food and other household products were being packaged in excessive amounts of plastic. Plastic wrapping and packaging is ubiquitous and is largely not recyclable. Instead, it goes to landfills or escapes into the environment.
I concluded that as we used less oil as fuel, petroleum was still flowing and being manufactured into cheap plastic. Plastic waste is indeed a climate change issue!
Untitled (Plastic film balls) (2021-ongoing) is a mass of plastic balls inspired by a 2012 installation by American artist, Tara Donovan, called Untitled (Mylar). I appropriate Donovan’s aesthetic of plastic balls heaped in piles, but instead of new mylar, I transform plastic film from household bags and packaging into art. The balls are presented in an amorphous circular floor installation signifying the growing mounds of plastic waste accumulating in landfills and the environment.
To make the balls in three different sizes, I cut plastic film from household waste into 4, 6 or 8 inch circles, then fold the circles to make irregular cone shapes which I ten sew together using old nylon fishing line. The work is very labour intensive and done entirely by me. The growing number of balls can be reconfigured in site-specific installations. The variable mixture of translucent, metallicized and coloured film plastic renders a shimmering surreal effect.
Without critiquing the conservation and disposability of material used in the art world, my work questions the use of petroleum-based plastics with indefinite life spans for throw-away applications.