JAMES TOVEY COPYRIGHT 2021
#plastic #native #temple - Installation for Vivacity Arts. For a generation born to consumerism in a plastic flooded biosphere, daily lives complicit, naturalised and virtually oblivious to the effects of single use and discard. Can we shop our way out of an ubiquitous environmental synthetic and semi-synthetic organic compound insertion? Having found a couple of expanded polystyrene skulls in a Peterborough shop sold as Halloween items, I became interested in the idea of the Vanitas still life genre but with a human impact starting point. When asked to do this installation commission it seemed an obvious choice to insert some ocean plastic into one of the skulls heads to form an Iroquois (or mohican, as commonly referred to in British English) tribal hairstyle. I think it will work better as a painting though like the immediacy of the photograph, a detail from the installation piece as a whole.
One of the paintings in the background for me is a cross between a Bolivian day of the skulls celebration set up with plastic debris and polystyrene skulls rather than human remains and decorative flowers and hats (see google link below), crossed with Cezanne or Picasso skull still lives. The Plastic litter was collected from a beach in Devon with some items also coming from the verges of the A47 Castor bypass. #plastigeddon #plastocalypse #plasticene #plasticpollution #plasticsoup #microplastics
Vivacity Unit, Queensgate, Peterborough. Until 20th May 2018
Plastic is now ubiquitous.
We’re living through the Plasticene.
You can buy a 2.4m plastic cactus for your hallway; you won’t have to water a real cactus using tap water, that itself now contains plastic micro-particles.
‘The plastic arts’ is a term that had existed long before plastic itself. I have wanted to try and look at the plastic objects I had collected over the last few years as naively as possible, as though life-drawn for the first time by an art student intent on learning through prolonged observation. My initial thoughts were also of a metamorphosis and of bringing ancient mythology and plastic ¬- a 20th century invention - together in an uncomfortable way. However I found myself reluctant to go too far down the path of the collision of two plastic objects to transmogrify into a third construct.
The mermaid painting backdrop idea came from a small toy figure found as sea plastic litter. It is actually the top half part of a small Barbie figurine, but I initially thought it to be Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I researched mermaid art and came across the mermaid of Zennor and was attempting to build a composition around that and some lines from Ovid but the plastic overwhelmed it.
Wood is an obvious counterpoint and natural contrast with which I have felt more at ease. The plastic components are essentially ready-mades although altered by collision with natural processes in the environment and some minor assemblage. Wood is also an ancient, relevant building material. In this installation, the wood forms a sanctuary, a natural structure and the plastic is an imposition on it and in it.
There is no doubt the terrible convenient addiction that societies have developed for plastic eases the struggle against decay in the short term. What now looks to be a permanent error is that plastic is with us for the foreseeable and has been injected into the human food chain. I can imagine a child born being described as a plastic native to perhaps a planet slowly choking at Plastigeddon.
The Mermaid and her Mahi Mahi painting was further displayed in Peterborough Cathedral during 2019. Intended as a discussion point by the Cathedral Education team, some 800 engagements from school children were recieved.