Plastics! If you are of a certain age, you will remember when they were considered to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was where young men could find their futures. Plastics were going to save the world. We know better now. Plastics are filling our landfills, strangling our oceans, and killing wildlife at an alarming rate.
One of the largest sources of plastic pollution is the ‘disposable’ bottle. Buy a drink, open the bottle, use it once, throw it away, and forget about it, right? Wrong! We can’t forget about them, because plastic bottles don’t go away. And that’s the point that the design team behind our third faculty installation, Flotsam and Jetsam are making.
From afar Flotsam and Jetsam appears to be a giant fish tail, breaching on the beach. Upon closer inspection, the installation created by University of Waterloo architectural students, it’s a series of cages holding hundreds of plastic bottles in a variety of colours. The 20-foot high sculpture invites us to consider how our consumption affects not only humans but the wildlife, specifically aquatic, that comes into contact with our garbage. The sheer size of the installation serves to underscore the scope of the problem. The fact that the fish’s head is buried in the sand only reinforces that we’ve ignored the issue for far too long.
Flotsam and Jetsam is a hulking sculpture that appears whimsical but makes a serious point. I wish I could find out if the plastic bottles were collected along the shorelines of the beaches where Winter Stations makes its home. Having that piece of information would have further driven home the point about how pervasive plastic pollution is to visitors. As it stands, I found comfort in a mother explaining to her son where all this garbage came from, why she carries her water bottle with her, and why he should too.
Winter Stations runs from February 20th to March 27th, 2017. Follow the boardwalk east starting at Woodbine beach.
The title for this piece comes from the infamous piece of advice given to Benjamin Braddock in the movie The Graduate, which you really need to watch, right now, if you haven’t already.