By Margaret Badore / Source: TreeHugger


To create “Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape,” Alejandro Durán gathers plastic trash that washes up on the beaches of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally-protected reserve. The site is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its archaeological sites and amazing biodiversity.

Yet every day, plastic pollution from around the world washes up onto its shores. These materials inspired Durán to create a series of environmental art pieces, which he documents with photos and video. I had the opportunity to speak with Durán at a Brooklyn gathering organized by 5 Gyres, a non-profit dedicated to researching and fighting plastic pollution in the ocean. Durán was born in Mexico City and is now based in Brooklyn.


Durán said that he’s been collecting materials and creating photographs for the past five years, but that the work is ongoing. “The project will tell me when to stop.”

Each piece can convey a vastly different mood, from the serene greens of soda bottles, to the playful rainbows of toothbrushes, to the menacing reds or blacks of assorted jetsam. “I’m making art,” said Durán. “It comes from the context and my moods. You can’t say, ‘only make something dark.’ ”


The work reflects and plays with natural forms, re-framing and exploring how humans impact the environment. In one work, a collection of light bulbs arranged along the surf suggests seashells. In another, an assortment of green plastic vessels is arranged in a tendril to evoke a vine.

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