In response to the Bruges Triennial’s 2018 theme “Liquid City,” Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm STUDIOKCA designed a 38-foot-tall sculptural whale composed of over five tons of plastic pulled from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The studio, led by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang, wanted to address how cities from across the globe are contributing to the waste that has piled up in our oceans—the discarded plastic that is washing up on our shores and endangering and killing marine life.
Skyscraper contains nearly 4,000-square-feet of plastic waste, which is just a dent in the 150 million tons of plastic that currently circulates in our seas. STUDIOKCA worked with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund to coordinate several beach clean-ups, which is how the team found most of the plastic for the 10,000-pound whale.
“Right now there is 150 million tons of plastic swimming in the ocean, our oceans, the oceans we share,” says Klimoski in a video created about the project. “Pound for pound that is more plastic waste swimming in the ocean than there is whales. So an opportunity like this to show the type of plastic and the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans is really important.”
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Mexican photographer and anthropologist Anuar Patjane captures black and white moments of life underwater as a way to bring awareness to a part of the world most do not get a chance to see. Patjane searches for awe-inspiring snapshots to connect viewers with images of fish and other underwater animals. He hopes his photographs create an empathy towards these creatures and their environment while also expressing the impact that our choices have on their trajectory as species of the sea.
“With the [Underwater Realm] series, I try to drive our attention towards the beauty of our oceans a a truth usually unnoticed: We are brutally overfishing in our oceans, and our attention should be concentrated on the way we fish, as well as what we eat from the ocean,” he explains in an artist statement about the series. “We see and care when a forest is gone because it is visible to everybody, but we don’t see when we destroy life underwater.”
Patjane not only captures life underwater, but landscapes from all over the globe that may often go unnoticed. You can see more of his series, including images shot in Antarctica and Iceland, on his website and Instagram.
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Billowing clouds of smoke burst upon rugged mountainous terrains, deserted architecture, and blossoming fields. These vibrant, ethereal sceneries are captured by French photographers Isabelle Chapuis and Alexis Pichot and are part of their Blossom project. The duo’s smokey clouds emerge from beautiful landscapes and desolate buildings alike, transforming both natural and abandoned scenes into enchanted spaces of sorcery and wonder.
Chapuis and Pichot’s collaborative project is a celebration of the beauty of natural forms, of what nature grows into without humankind’s influence. Each cloud is created by adding colored pigments to smoke including pastel pinks, vivid blues, dark greens, and creamy yellows. The duo captures the resulting colorful scene scene with a Nikon D810 camera.
The project is set in various parts of the globe including the US, Morocco, Turkey, and Norway, each of which has unique natural topography. The clouds take different forms depending on the landscape. In one photo a mustard yellow cloud resembles volcanic smoke, yet in another, a cloud looks like an peach-hued spiritual form haunting an old industrial site.
With ‘Blossom’, the artists share with Colossal that they seek to illustrate a visual manifestation of humanity’s creative impulse, and to raise awareness on the interventions of mankind in territory. “If people are absent from these photographs, their imprint is suggested among these wild natural or abandoned landscapes,” states Chapuis.
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Splash and Burn: An Artist-Led Initiative Raising Awareness About the Negative Effects of Palm Oil Production in South Asia
Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, the harvesting of which has been shown to have extremely adverse effects on wildlife and natural resources, including deforestation, fires, and the displacement of people and animals. Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic (previously) witnessed this devastation during his time spent photographing and traveling throughout the country, and decided to found the initiative Splash and Burn to spread public awareness about the resource’s inhumane production.
“A state of global environmental crisis is defining our generation,” Zacharevic tells Colossal. “As consumers, we are so disconnected from the source of our commodities that we do not recognize the impact of our daily choices. This project is an effort to bridge that gap.”
The organization’s name comes from slash-and-burn, the cheap practice of burning land to clear the way for new plantations, a method that releases toxic smoke, and has been linked to more than 500,000 respiratory infections. For two years Zacharevic researched these issues effecting Indonesia’s population, meeting with NGOs, locals, and wildlife sites to educate himself on the organizations fighting against the practices and attempting to heal from their destruction.
After researching the area and its local organizations, like the Orangutan Information Centre, the Lithuanian artist invited several fellow creatives to respond to the native landscape and the palm oil crisis through art installations. Since February, international artists have created murals, sculptures, and other works throughout Sumatra. Pieces include an orangutan mural painted by VHILS, Isaac Cordal’s miniature hazmat suit installation, and Zacharevic’s plantation intervention in which he inserted the message SOS into the landscape’s trees.
“I wanted to communicate the magnitude of the problem to a wider audience, as well as provide creative outlook, hope, and inspiration to local communities and conservationists,” says Zacharevic in a press release about the work. “From the ground, you would not suspect anything more than just another palm oil plantation, the aerial view however reveals an SOS distress signal. ‘Save our Souls’ is a message communicated to those at a distance, a reminder of the connectedness we share with nature. As more of the forests are lost, we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process.”
So far Splash and Burn has worked with Anders Gjennestad aka Strøk, Axel Void, Bibichun, Gabriel Pitcher, Isaac Cordal, Mark Jenkins, and Pixel Pancho. The ongoing initiative is curated by Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt. To follow upcoming installations or support the project’s efforts visit the Sumatran Orangutan Society website or Splash and Burn’s Instagram.
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Artist Yang Yongliang Imagines the Bleak Effects of Industrialization in Dense Photographic Collages
In these stark photographic collages that seem to possess the infinite density of a fractal, artist Yang Yongliang (previously) questions unchecked industrialization, the impact of climate change, and pressing social issues in his native China. Each image seems to suggest a post-apocalyptic future where the forces of urbanization collide with the natural world, creating a drab black and white dystopia. “The artist keeps developing a critic approach to reality while searching for a spiritual source in his country’s relentless march between technological progress and annihilation,” states Galerie Paris-Beijing.
As part of this new series titled Time Immemorial, Yongliang began with a series of digital collages that were printed in negative on fine art paper. Each piece was then photographed with a traditional film camera and prints were developed by hand. Lastly, the artworks are mounted on back-lit wooden cases to fulfill the artist’s intent to preserve digital imagery on photographic film.
Time Immemorial opens at Galerie Paris-Beijing on November 4, 2017.
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Josh Keyes (previously) paints scenes that observe the world at the brink of destruction. His works often focus on polar bears and sharks, one species which will soon lose its home as ice shelves continue to melt, and the other which is poised to take over an Earth undersea. The animals are placed in settings that suggest a post-human existence, such as a pair of fighting horses in front of a beached ship and a solitary brown bear looking over a seemingly empty metropolis.
The hyperrealistic paintings also incorporate graffiti found in unlikely places. Tags cover satellites, icebergs, and even a shark, an allusion to the lengths at which humans are willing to leave their mark.
Keyes’ solo exhibition, Implosion, opens August 5th at Thinkspace Gallery in LA and runs through August 26, 2017. You can see more of his works on his Instagram and website. (via Juxtapoz, Arrested Motion)
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From climate change to capitalism run amok, street artist Blu (previously) pulls no punches in his soaring multi-story murals on the streets of Italy. While mixed with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humor, the inspiration behind each artwork is anything but funny as he translates searing critiques into aesthetically beautiful paintings. For instance a 2016 piece criticizing housing problems in the Celadina district of Bergamo, Italy depicts cramped residents as a brightly hued rainbow but leaves a small group of authorities in the lower right completely devoid of color. Collected here is a selection of murals from the last year, you can see more detailed shots by flipping through his blog. You can also get an idea of how he works—perched on a tiny suspended seat—in this short GIF.
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Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.