Political Plastic: From Frutti di Mare to Mare di Frutti – by Timo Brusewitz

“Mare di Frutti” is a company that sells a soft drink made from plastic. This soft drink, which has the same name as the company, can be purchased like any other consumer goods. OR: “Mare di Frutti” is a soft drink made from plastic. It is sold by the company also named “Mare di Frutti” and can be purchased like any other consumer goods.
Crucial to the production of Mare di Frutti is a resource that is both colourful and abundant: plastic parts found in coastal waters. In the water, the plastic debris are subdued to extreme and permanent weathering, which alters their form, colour, and surface structure.

Nature correlates with this synthetic waste, continually reshaping and finally transforming it into Frutti di Mare. As such, synthetic plastic is being upgraded to an organic material, it is transformed into a high-value natural product. Thus, plastic waste is seen as being a part of (positively connoted) nature. It is a valuable resource, not only practically but also ideationally, which is being “fished” out of coastal waters. It is a raw material that cannot be obtained by recycling but is present in nature.

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Analogue of microplastic, the collected Frutti di Mare are being processed to fine granule or so-called Mikrofrutti, which look like colourful plastic grains of sand. Afterwards, these are being put into contact with a certain microbe species that was discovered by a team led by Kohei Oda of the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan and which carries the name “ideonella sakaiensis”. This microbe has the ability to metabolically convert polyethylene terephthalate (PET): It breaks down plastic in a type of brewing process and metabolises it into organic material.

Before this mixture is being packaged and sold as a soft drink, desalinated and purified seawater is being added. Since “ideonella sakaiensis” transformed Frutti di Mare into organic material, toxicological effects are not to be dreaded: The plastic beverage can be easily broken down by the human body. In fact, particles of microplastic have arrived in our food chain and thus in our bodies.

Mare di Frutti expands on this topic and deals with it in an affirmative way. As a sales representative in a white suit, branded with the Mare di Frutti-Logo, the artist Timo Brusewitz will present the drink, elucidate its production process by producing the beverage live, and drink it. Then, he will encourage the public to try it, too. The interaction between the company and the potential ”consumers” is important.

That’s why Mare di Frutti could be offered in supermarkets, served in clubs as a new in-drink. Celebrities could advertise for Mare di Frutti. There could be a Mare di Frutti drinking contest, where ”consumers” drink as much Mare di Frutti as they can. They would drink for a good cause, because the more you drink of it, the less plastic swims in the oceans. That is ”moral consumption” – cultural capitalism at its purest!

For most consumer goods counts “the fewer/less, the better”. For instance, better than having a car with a low fuel consumption is having no car at all. In other words, to relinquish commodities altogether is a more reasonable alternative from an ecological or social point of view. Mare di Frutti, however, is turning this doctrine around. The artwork’s message of Timo Brusewitz is to abandon restriction and austerity, claiming the exact opposite: The more excessively Mare di Frutti is being consumed, the less plastic will be swimming in coastal waters. And that’s the company’s mission.

Mass production and mass consumption cause masses of plastic in the seas. Timo Brusewitz’s project claims that mass consumption can be a solution to the problem mass consumption itself caused: It can make the world a better place, indeed. The company communicates in a language we all know, it interacts by the medium of a nice, colourful, and innocent product. Mare di Frutti is not made for the white cube but is meant to interfere in and disturb people’s day-to-day life.

The Political Plastic narrative is being mediated in a performance and depends on the dialogue with the public: It addresses the consumer topic, to which we’re all connected, since we’re all consumers. How does it make people feel if a company offers drinkable plastic? What are the reactions in the audience? What thoughts will it raise on the topic? Will it cause confusion or provoke rebellious reactions? I believe that it is impossible to trigger and initiate a real change with a moral pointing finger. You can actually reach people and make a serious change in a keen and witty way. In the Anthropocene, humans shape the world, which raises the question: In what kind of world do we want to live?

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