The deadly art of plastic

The idea that art feeds on life and nature is both corroborated and challenged by the exhibition “Love, Death & Plastic”. And, in case you haven’t heard it – amid all the panic and concern over the continuing COVID-19 saga, there is a global climate crisis that is in full swing and has been going on for a long time. time.

Evelyn Anca is keenly aware of this and has done her best to make sure that as many of us as possible are aware of the painful fact that if we don’t get PDQ together, things are going to get harder and harder for us. all of us.

I met the 30-year-old multidisciplinary artist and Israeli environmental activist a few days before the opening of her exhibition at the Shaarabiah Gallery in Jaffa (August 17-21), and shortly before she flew to Oxford, UK – if so. feasible nowadays – to start a master’s degree in conservation of primates / human-primate interface.

Fittingly, the new exhibition of works – made up of Anca scrap salvaged from the sea and the beach here – has taken place following the release this month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Evolution report. of the climate on global warming which indicates that greenhouse gas emissions must be halved. limit heating to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. And that target was only included in the 2015 UN-sponsored Paris climate agreements after the stubbornness displayed by the leaders of the Pacific islands.

If global temperatures continue to rise and we see more catastrophic flooding that hit various parts of Europe this summer, people close to Anca could lose everything they have, literally. As part of her undergraduate studies in psychology, she traveled to Kiriwina, the largest of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea, to conduct research in psychology and culture.

“By staying in the village of Kavataria and examining the culture, my intentions were never to change anything, but to observe,” notes Anca.

WASTE COVERS the banks of a stream in the Judean Desert in 2019 (credit: SARA KLATT / FLASH90)

Yet you can’t keep a passionate environmentalist under wraps for long.

“I couldn’t ignore the negative effects the outside world has on the local environment and people’s health,” she continues. So I tried to understand the community’s environmental problems – and all the ways we might be able to solve them. “

While in Kiriwina, Anca befriended the children of Kavataria primary school and the head teacher Titi Chris. The artist was appalled at the way life was unfolding on the island, on several fronts.

“Christianity has taken over the local culture. Almost all the ceremonies, funerals, weddings and other things, so little of the old traditions remains there.

Anca was also keen to make residents understand the dangers of ignoring the almost irreversible damage to their habitat and restricting their way of life.

“The sea is full of plastic. Fish eat plastic, so do people, ”she says, becoming emotional as she reflects on the plight of her friends in the Southwest Pacific region.

“With pollution and rising sea levels, they will soon have nowhere to live. “

Despite international agreements on climate control, prevention of the approaching environmental holocaust unfortunately still seems a long way off, but Anca, who is also co-director of Plastic Free Israel, tries on her show to give some idea of ​​the enormity of the problem – and the horrific volumes of garbage that we blithely leave around, or intentionally dump, in particular, into the sea.

“This morning, I went to pick up trash on Jaffa beach,” she said casually.

Still, she manages to use some of the junk of modern life wisely, creatively and – hopefully – educational, as “Love, Death & Plastic” demonstrates aesthetically, but also unequivocally. Anca has put her heart and soul into the exhibitions, the exhibition of which is supported by a bunch of green businesses, including the community organization Up To Us, which promotes urban sustainability through cultural and artistic events. and community projects. Other environmentally conscious sponsors include the Zalul Environmental Association, Tipa Compostable Packaging, sportswear company Billabong and, somewhat surprisingly, cigarette maker Philip Morris, who is now committed to making a “Smoke-free future”.

Anca’s investment in the exhibition is manifested in a tangible way, for example, in Butt Jacket. As the title suggests, the piece incorporates cigarette butts, heaps of them.

“There are thousands of them in there,” she laughs. “I took a needle and thread and put them all together. It took me a long time to do it. ”

Bandages were also applied during the process – to the artist’s fingers, not the jacket.

His evolving work, which also includes photography and drawings, includes a two-meter-high seahorse made of rubbish, which was acquired by the Eilat Underwater Observatory.

I was not surprised to learn that Anca went her own way through her creative art from the start.

“I haven’t formally studied art anywhere,” she says. “My mother, who is a neurologist, studied art in Romania, so we often drew together. But I never thought I would engage in art.

Yet the natural inclination was still there, bubbling beneath. The catalyst for the art-ecology combo came while Anca was on an extended visit to South Africa.

“I went to a place where they kept lions in a fenced area, to allow the rich, who probably pay a lot of money, to come there and shoot the lions,” she recalls.

One thing led to another, and Anca developed a passion for “bringing plastic waste to life, letting these colorful abandoned rooms tell the story of plastic pollution and how it affects the environment, wildlife and ultimately comes back to life. we humans ”.

Over the years, she has participated in group exhibitions and had her own solo exhibitions, producing alluring creations with a powerful, often oxymoronic subtext.

“Each piece is inspired by real events, scientific facts and sad truths that I think art can help us face,” says Anca. “The battle between the vibrant colors of plastic and the persistent black element in all my works represents both the role of this material in our society and consumerism, while also reminding us of the dark side of plastic and the results of our behavior. . “

For more information on “Love, Death & Plastic” and Anca’s work:

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