September 20, 2021
This week we recognize the work of artist Anne-Katrin Spiess.
"My ongoing environmental concerns led me to address the urgent single-use plastics crisis, a leading cause of pollution and climate change on the planet. For decades prosperous nations were sending their plastics to China. Thankfully, their recent refusal to accept these materials is a wake-up call for all countries faced with a glut of plastic and a lack of infrastructure to process them. Part of the problem is that as consumers, we have become incredibly lazy. However, the more significant issue is that corporations keep producing and wrapping products in plastics that are often not recyclable. The result of my research is a new series titled Death by Plastic."
"In the summer of 2019, I performed Death by Plastic for the first time in Moab, Utah, a small community seasonally infiltrated by tourists who come to explore the extraordinary pristine landscapes but leave behind large quantities of refuse. I have been creating art in the area for twenty years and when I discovered that only plastics #1 and #2 were being recycled, and everything else was being land-filled. After a sleepless night, I decided to build a clear casket where my body would lay covered by plastics 3,4,5,6 and 7, which were longer be recycled. The work was photographed on the Moab landfill, where the plastics would eventually end up.
In July of 2021, still reeling from the pandemic and its optics, namely in the form of single-use masks, a glut of takeout containers, and packaging materials, I decided to perform Death by Plastic in my hometown of New York City as a funeral procession down Fifth Avenue."
DEATH BY PLASTIC EULOGY
We are gathered here to mourn the state of the planet, our home, a place where climate change is causing torrential rains and scorching fires. Have you noticed?
We are here to mourn oceans and rivers filled with plastics and debris. We are here to mourn beaches that are no longer pristine. We are here to mourn the fish who are feeding off micro-plastics rather than plankton. We are here to mourn the whales who are dying with their bellies full of plastic.
We stand here in the realization that we each ingest a credit card worth of plastic every week through the foods and drinks we consume and that those micro-plastics may end up in human placenta and sperm.
The very essence of human life is in jeopardy.
Unless we come up with alternate solutions to single-use plastics, the very composition of our bodies will be irreversibly changed. The planet we live on will be so toxic and polluted that life as we know it will no longer be possible.
Anne-Katrin Spiess is a land artist whose primary focus is the ecology of Earth. She lives in New York City, although much of her art is created in the deserts of the American West. This dichotomy fuels her imagination, with both places providing endless and disparate stimuli. Spiess is able to work in incredibly isolated locales thanks to an Airstream trailer which becomes her traveling studio and hermitage for weeks at a time. Her practice is a way of exploring solitude and becoming immersed in and with the land. annekatrin.info
Featured Images: ©Anne-Katrin Spiess, Death By Plastic, 2019-2021, New York City procession, 5th Ave, July 29, 2021.
Below: ©Anne-Katrin Spiess, Casket Portrait, 2019, Moab, Utah. Photo credit: Mark Brown