Quantcast

Surreal Photos Show Impact of Plastic Pollution on One of the World's Most Beautiful Places

Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Alejandro Durán is bringing attention to the devastating environmental catastrophe of global waste and plastic pollution. In this ongoing project, Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape, the pristine beauty of Sian Ka’an—Mexico’s largest federally-protected reserve—is contrasted with colorful yet unsettling garbage collected from all over the world.

Derrame (Spill), 2010. Alejandro Durán artistically arranges colorful pieces of plastic in sites along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Photo Credit: Alejandro Durán

"With more than 20 pre-Columbian archaeological sites, this UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to a vast array of flora and fauna and the world’s second largest coastal barrier reef," the Mexico City-native said about the site of his installation. "Unfortunately, Sian Ka’an is also a repository for the world’s trash, which is carried there by ocean currents from many parts of the globe."

Artfully strewn along Mexico's Caribbean coast are countless pieces of waste and other disposables, including plastic bottles, bottle caps, toothbrushes, light bulbs and more.

Algas (Algae), 2013. About 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans each year. Photo Credit: Alejandro Durán

Mar (Sea), 2013. "At times I distribute the objects the way the waves would; at other times, the plastic takes on the shape of algae, roots, rivers or fruit, reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment." Photo Credit: Alejandro Durán

Over the course of the project, Durán identified waste from 50 different countries across six continents that have surfaced along a single coastline of Sian Ka'an. As we previously reported, 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into world’s oceans each year, causing $13 billion in damages to marine ecosystems annually.

Vena (Vein), 2011 and Rayo (Ray), 2011. These photos bring much-needed attention to consumerism and its devastation to the environment. Photo Credit: Alejandro Durán

Durán uses this international debris to create color-based, site-specific sculptures. "Conflating the hand of man and nature, at times I distribute the objects the way the waves would; at other times, the plastic takes on the shape of algae, roots, rivers or fruit, reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment," he said.

Brotes (Shoots), 2014. Durán's work "examines the fraught intersections of man and nature, particularly the tension between the natural world and an increasingly overdeveloped one." Photo Credit: Alejandro Durán

Durán hopes to "change our relationship to consumption and waste" with his project. "More than creating a surreal or fantastical landscape, these installations mirror the reality of our current environmental predicament," he said. "The resulting photo series depicts a new form of colonization by consumerism, where even undeveloped land is not safe from the far-reaching impact of our disposable culture."

The artist has collected thousands of plastics and other waste items from 50 nations across six continents that have surfaced on a single Mexican shoreline. Photo Credit: Alejandro Durán

The project recently received a Juror’s Award from CENTER, which recognizes outstanding photographers working in fine art series or documentary projects. “The singular focus applied to this project is unparalleled," said juror and CNN Digital senior photo editor Bernadette Tuazon, who selected Durán’s project for the award.

Visit his website to see more of his work. The artist will be displaying his project at upcoming exhibitions and discussions. Go here for dates and locations.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Stunning Photos Capture Devastating Worldwide E-Waste Problem

Incredible Photos: Is This Tiny Cabin Micro-Community the Future of Sustainable Living?

Award-Winning Photographer Captures Waves Like You’ve Never Seen Them

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!