One of our very talented artists, Pam Longobardi, has a very exciting show this month. The newest Drifters Project installation will be exhibited in Venice during the Venice Bienale at ARTLIFE Gallery. Please take a moment to read her statement on a project that questions everyone’s relationship with our Earth and what Longobardi calls a “portrait of global consumer society, and serves as a reminder to humanity that our actions have pervasive and far-reaching effects.”
I have built a shipwreck from plastic and nets collected on Hawai’i, Lido and Otranto on the southern Adriatic sea coast. The sculpture also references the infamous garbage barge of New York, an image that has haunted me for over 20 years. The ship’s structure is formed of plastic tubes that wash up in Hawai’i by the millions. They are the spacer tubes of Japanese oyster aquaculture cages. The rest of the plastic is from the Lido and Otranto, gathered from the beach or in the water. I would swim over a mile each time and encounter floating plastic that I tied onto my swimsuit. When I landed on the beach, I was festooned in plastic.
Panthalassa was the name of the one world ocean when Pangaea was the one supercontinent. Though geographic and political boundaries have created 7 seas, it is still one world ocean. The plastic of the world circulates through ocean currents to collect in the North Pacific Gyre, in an area estimated to be larger than the size of the continental United States. Venice and Lido suggest the ghosts of a dying era marking the heights of human culture and its fall into decadence. Grand ducal palaces in Venice and the hotels and casinos that were the jetsetter’s playground of Lido are now in a state of decay that is a metaphor for the decay of humanity and of the planet Earth itself.
The once grand monuments of marble and gold are crumbling. Venice is literally sinking. Several times a year the entire Piazza San Marco and its stunning cathedral are submerged under several feet of water as the sea seeks to reclaim its ground. And yet the plastic proliferates, accumulates and persists. Once valuable materials of the earth, now rare, are increasingly being replaced with plastic substitutes, which do not decay, do not biodegrade and are becoming poison sponges in the waterways of the world. I am intending this work to be a siren call, an alarm of beautiful colors and form that tells us of its dangerous self.