“Washed Up” by Alejandro Duran
October 4th through October 26th
Washed Up is an ongoing project by Mexican-born, New York-based artist Alejandro Duran that 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. With more than twenty pre-Colombian 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. Unfortunately, Sian Ka’an is also a repository for the world’s trash, which is carried there by ocean currents from every corner of the globe.
Starting in February 2010 and over subsequent visits, Duran has used his international detritus to create his color-based, site-specific sculptures. He conflates the hand of man and nature, distributing the objects the way the waves would, like wind-scattered seed or roots tunneling through soil, echoing the organic forms of the surrounding landscape. In order to photograph the sculptures, Duran uses a mix of natural and artificial light, further blurring the line between existing and constructed realities.
Over the course of this project, Duran has identified products washed ashore from forty-two nations on six continents. 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. Although inspired by the works of Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Smithson, Washed Up speaks to the environmental concerns of our time and its vast quantity of discarded materials. Beyond turning trash into treasure, the alchemy of Washed Up lies in the project’s potential to raise awareness and change our relationship to consumption and waste.