This intricately designed art project, previously created by Shafina Jafer to commemorate Earth Day, has now itself been transformed – and recycled – into a new art installation by the Tanzanian artist. Titled: We Are Drowning. Shafina Jafer, who is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Painting at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, United Kingdom, has populated the 25m swimming pool with the same plastic bottles from the previous exhibition. This time, meticulously threading them into ring shapes, with each different bottle coloured with a different colour of a rainbow to commemorate World Peace Day.
This exhibition, which took over 90 days to produce, comes amidst a period where society must understand the vulnerability of our environments. Ongoing climate crises, even in this month, in 2022 have only served to remind us –that our world, although vast, is fragile. This exhibition hence aims to enlighten society of what the facts are saying and not to turn blind eyes.
Therefore, Shafina’s latest art piece is making a strong statement to the community of Dar Es Salaam by raising awareness of the global pollution crisis we are facing. She demonstrated in front of the media and school children by swimming through the plastic, showing how difficult it is for marine life to navigate themselves in the water through the layers of plastic waste, as they struggle to breathe, see and also inadvertently choke while feeding on plastic wastes. Most impressive is that her use of recycled material being further recycled again through a second project shows the mileage and durability of plastic in itself – whilst also making a statement about the topic of pollution in various ways.
In other symbolism, the plastic rings floating on the pool bear a striking resemblance of the same shape as a ring buoy that one would throw into the water to save drowning people. Making it out of plastic shows that our oceans themselves are drowning in this plastic that we are throwing into them.
According to her, the most unfortunate thing about the whole situation is that our daily habits of consumption are the reasons for it. She believes that we should all be more mindful about our use of single-use plastics.
Especially given how easy it is just to use your own water bottle and refill it, or not use plastic cutlery, she believes that we can all adjust our daily habits with ease whilst also creating positive impact, being mindful of how much plastic we use and how incorrect disposal litters our city.
Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic goes into the ocean. The same as if one truckload was dumped into the sea every minute of the day. From there, its reach goes far and wide into all water environments. It enters the ecosystems, causing harm to marine life. Plastic is unavoidable in our daily lives in the 21st Century. It is used to make everything from packaging, to clothing, furniture, computer parts and car parts. It is so durable that it doesn’t not biodegrade into the soil. Plastics can take between a few decades and up to an astounding millions of years to disintegrate.
As a result, unless it’s burned, which itself causes pollution, nearly every piece of plastic ever manufactured still exists today – and when it enters the ocean, its effects can be felt for centuries.
To make matters worse, 50-percent of the plastic we produce is single use, meaning it’s intended to be thrown away immediately after it has served its purpose – like straws, plastic carrier bags and plastic water bottles.
Because it’s so frequently produced and so rapidly discarded, single-use plastic increases the amount of waste entering into the environment.
Even more underlying, the devastation that occurs through the ingestion of plastic by marine life.
Microplastics look similar to plankton, which is food for hundreds of species at the base of the food chain.
As a result, plastic infiltrates entire ecosystems. Its estimation suggest that there could be upwards of 5 trillion individual pieces of plastic floating in the ocean. At the current rates, the amount of plastic in the ocean could outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050. Moreover, research shows that more than 800 coastal and marine species are directly affected by plastic waste through entanglement, ingestion or damage to their habitats.
According to global studies 90-percent of seabirds, and 52-percent of all turtles on the planet have consumed plastic. Finally, a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die annually because of plastic waste.
Shafina’s art installation will remain up at the Colosseum Fitness Club in Oyster Bay from Tuesday, 20th September to Sunday 25th September for visitors to come and see.
It will be there as a reminder to all viewers that they should be more environmentally conscious and live a life of awareness not only for our generation but also for the next generation.
The rings of plastic symbolize the fact that we are all connected through our actions in the great “Circle of Life.”
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