The story of plastic is as complex as the polymer chains that make up its unique material properties. Plastic Entanglements brings together sixty works by thirty contemporary artists to explore the environmental, aesthetic, and technological entanglements of our ongoing love affair with this paradoxical, infinitely malleable substance. Both miraculous and malignant, ephemeral yet relentlessly present, plastic infiltrates our global networks, our planet, and even our bodies.
This major loan exhibition features work by an international roster of emerging and mid-career artists. Visitors will encounter a varied array of artwork, from meticulous drawings, photographs, and video installations to 3D-printed objects and sculptures fabricated from found plastic.
Plastic Entanglements unfolds in three sections, charting a timeline—past, present, and future—of our ongoing engagement with this ubiquitous manmade material.
Morehshin Allahyari, Ifeoma U. Anyaeji, Han Bing, Dianna Cohen, Willie Cole, Bonnie Collura, Gisela Colon, Emmanuel Bakary Daou, Mark Dion, Katrin Hornek, Kelly Jazvac, Chris Jordan, Brian Jungen, Pamela Longobardi, Steve McPherson, Zanele Muholi, Vik Muniz, Matthew Northridge, Aurora Robson, Evelyn Rydz, Tejal Shah, Jessica Stockholder, Rebecca Strzelec, Ann Tarantino, Christine Wertheim, Margaret Wertheim, Deb Todd Wheeler, Kelly Wood, Pinar Yoldas, and Marina Zurkow.
The Archive examines the ways in which plastic objects make up an inadvertent record of daily life from the mid-twentieth century onwards. Resiliently non-biodegradable, plastic has created both a cultural and literal archive for artists to salvage, identify, and assemble.
The Entangled Present
The Entangled Present reveals the ways in which plastic binds people, plants, and animals together across diverse geographical locations and through global systems. The works of art in this section focus attention on the complex effects of the reach of plastic on ecological networks as well as on current artistic practice and reveal the ways in which we are bound up in plastic realities, often regardless of our individual choices or ideals.
The exhibition concludes with a section dedicated to Speculative Futures, asking what unknown worlds are emerging from the omnipresence of plastic, including new geologic and biologic forms. Engaging with new materials and modes of plastic production, artists are also opening up our imaginations to the range of possible futures in plastic.
Images top to bottom: Steve McPherson, Wavelengths, 2012–13, unaltered marine plastic objects. Courtesy of Victori + Mo Gallery; Ifeoma U. Anyaeji, Akpalakpa II (Weave), 2012, repurposed, used, non-biodegradable discarded plastic bags, metal wire, and wood. Courtesy of the artist and Skoto Gallery, New York; Tejal Shah, still from Between the Waves: Landfill Dance, 2012, video projection with sound, 5:02 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.