Rubbish Colonialism versus Consciousness

Beauty gets wasted by waste! Seaweed on a shore may be obscured by rubbish – dangerous waste! We throw rubbish into the sea, and so waste is moved from land to sea – making a line from T.S Eliot’s “Wasteland” to our “Waste-Sea”!

Rubbish land to sea! And it’s colonial as well, because often the shores that receive the highest amount of waste are shores in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Arctic. Western countries produce the most rubbish, and impoverished countries receive it! So the movement of rubbish echoes colonialism experienced previously by countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It was rubbish then, and it’s even more rubbish now! The rubbish is accumulating, colonialism continues in different ways, and in waste.

Rubbish travels the ocean like a message! Once people used glass bottles as containers to send messages across the seas – now plastic bottles have become the message. Bottle as messenger! The bottle speaks for itself, and the plastic bag, all the other plastic pieces.

There is so much rubbish in our lives, that we are often not aware of all those moments we throw rubbish away. We forget about it, or we don’t notice it, we take it for granted. Throwing rubbish away is often a subconscious activity, like the sea: the sea has been a metaphor for our subconscious, the mysterious, the unknown! So it’s not surprising that rubbish ends up in the sea! The sea as subconscious, where we bury the things we don’t want to know, and don’t want to see! The sea for all that we don’t want to see!

⇒ So what we need is awareness, of how often it happens we engage in throwing rubbish away. So here is the task: remember the last time you threw rubbish away, and how long ago it was. Remember the time also before the last time: remember, if you can, the last three pieces of rubbish you threw away. Now go back to it and use it, use it differently, make art out of it! Transform your piece of rubbish as a message that you noticed it, and don’t let it end up in the sea! ⇐

On the 5th June is World Environment Day, and on the 8th June is World Oceans Day. So I propose to use these three days to create art against our line from land to sea. Alternatively you could start now, and then show your artworks between the Days for the Environment and the Oceans!

Ursula Troche