The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) revealed that climate change isn’t the biggest problem in nature, at least for the oceans, but the abundance of plastic waste.
This came as a surprise for photographer Neal Oshima, whose wife works for the WWF, and was even more alarmed to find out that that the Philippines is the third-highest polluter of the oceans. These facts prompted the team behind Art Fair Philippines to approach Oshima and ask him to make a special exhibit.
“I immediately thought about it, and I thought about Olivia (D’Aboville). I knew she was using plastics (for her installations),” shared Oshima, “So that was the idea – to create something that would put plastics in people’s faces, and make that connection to the ocean.”
D’Aboville says she immediately said yes to Oshima when he approached her about the collaboration as one of her previous special exhibits focused on the same theme, that is, plastic waste pollution in the oceans. “It really made sense, it was a good fit. It’s an issue that is so important today, and people are ready to listen,” she aptly puts.
One version of “Plastics in Our Oceans” is located on the new bridgeway connecting The Landmark to The Link Carpark, where Art Fair Philippines 2019 is currently ongoing. Because of the high attendance of students, D’Aboville hopes that seeing their installation will empower them to act and raise awareness.
“(Change) starts with the individual, and corporations have to change, but as an individual you have to feel that you can do something about it,” D’Aboville explained.
Oshima added, “It has to take place on that level. I mean, this whole idea of ‘cleaning up the coastline’ is great, but really we have to catch it much earlier – use less plastic, recycle more of it, make sure it gets disposed of properly.”
Professionally speaking, an installation such as “Plastics in Our Oceans” is something neither Oshima nor D’Aboville does; Oshima has been doing photography for 40 years, while D’Aboville specializes in tapestry and textile structures through weaving.
“To do something that is more in-your-face and aggressive is not probably not what we would normally do, but we just felt it was what was needed for this problem,” Oshima said.
But given the opportunity, both artists would create an awareness-inspired piece again outside their comfort zone, provided it wouldn’t be rushed as “Plastics in Our Oceans” (they started putting the project together just a few weeks before Art Fair Philippines 2019).
They give credit to all the community weavers who helped put the plastics together, and all the people who helped retrieve the plastics from the ocean sites. “It wouldn’t have happened without all of them,” Oshima ended.
(Featured image: Birth of Venus Light Projection by GA Fallarme, Henk-Gert Lenten, and Gedrocks Roldan)
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