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The deadly art of plastic

CM 22/08/2021


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The notion that art feeds off life and nature is both corroborated and challenged by the “Love, Death & Plastic” exhibition. And, in case you haven’t heard – amid all the panic and trepidation over the continuing COVID-19 saga, there’s a global climate crisis in full swing and has been for some time.
Evelyn Anca is perfectly aware of that and has been doing her damnedest to make sure as many of us as possible are cognizant of the painful fact that, if we don’t get our act together PDQ, things are going to become increasingly dire for us all. 
I met the 30-year-old Israeli multidisciplinary artist and environmental activist a few days before her show opened at the Shaarabiah Gallery in Jaffa (August 17-21), and shortly before she jets off to Oxford, UK – if that is at all doable these days – to start a master’s degree in primate conservation/ human-primate interface. 

Fittingly, the new exhibition of works – made of junk Anca retrieved from the sea and beach here – took place in the wake of this month’s release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global warming that indicates that greenhouse gas emissions need to be halved to limit heating to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. And that goal was only included in the 2015 UN-sponsored Paris Climate Accords after the obduracy displayed by Pacific island leaders.
Should worldwide temperatures continue to rise and we see more of the catastrophic flooding that hit various parts of Europe this summer, people close to Anca could lose everything they have, literally. As part of her undergraduate studies in psychology she traveled to Kiriwina, the biggest of the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea, to conduct research in psychology and culture there. 
“While staying in the village of Kavataria and examining culture, my intentions were never to change anything, but to observe,” Anca notes. 
GARBAGE COVERS the banks of a stream in the Judean desert in 2019. (credit: SARA KLATT/FLASH90)GARBAGE COVERS the banks of a stream in the Judean desert in 2019. (credit: SARA KLATT/FLASH90)
Still, you can’t keep an impassioned environmentalist under wraps for long. 
“I couldn’t ignore the negative effects of the outside world on the local environment and people’s health,” she continues. So I tried to understand the environmental problems of the community – and any ways we might be able to solve them.”
While on Kiriwina, Anca became friendly with kids at the Kavataria Elementary School, and teacher-principal Titi Chris. The artist was appalled with the way life was panning out on the island, on several fronts. 
“Christianity has taken over the local culture. Almost all the ceremonies, funerals, weddings and other stuff, there is so little left of the old traditions there.” 
Anca was also keen to convey to the local inhabitants the perils of ignoring the almost irreversible damage being wreaked on their habitat and cramping their lifestyle. 
“The sea is full of plastic. The fish eat the plastic so the people do too,” she says, becoming emotional as she ponders the fate of her friends in the southwestern Pacific region. 
“With the pollution and sea levels rising, soon they won’t have anywhere to live.”
Despite the international climate control accords, preventing the approaching environmental holocaust, sadly, seems to be still some way off, but Anca, who also serves as co-director of Plastic Free Israel, is trying in her show to convey some idea of the enormity of the problem – and the horrifying volumes of garbage we blithely leave around, or intentionally dump, particularly, in the sea. 
“This morning I went to collect litter from Jaffa beach,” she says by the by. 
Still, she does manage to put some of the detritus of modern day life to good, creative and – hopefully – educational use, as “Love, Death & Plastic” demonstrates aesthetically, but also in no uncertain terms. Anca put her body and soul into the exhibits, the display of which is supported by a bunch of green ventures, including the community-business Up To Us organization, which furthers urban sustainability through culture and arts events, and community projects. Other green-minded sponsors include the Zalul Environmental Association, Tipa Compostable Packaging, the Billabong sports clothing company and, somewhat surprisingly, the Philip Morris cigarette manufacturer, which now pledges to achieve a “smoke-free future.”
Anca’s investment in the exhibition comes across palpably, for example, in Butt Jacket. As the title suggests, the piece incorporates cigarette butts, loads of them. 
“There are thousands in there,” she laughs. “I took needle and thread and joined them all up. It took me a long time to do that.” 
There were some Band-Aids applied during the process too – to the artist’s fingers that is, not the jacket.
Her evolving oeuvre, which also takes in photography and drawings, includes a two-meter high seahorse made of garbage, which was acquired by the Underwater Observatory in Eilat. 
I Was not surprised to learn that Anca plied her own course through her creative craft from the off. 
“I didn’t formally study art anywhere,” she declares. “My mother, who is a neurologist, studied art in Romania so we often used to draw together. But I never thought I would engage in art.”
Still, the natural inclination was always there, bubbling under. The catalyst for the art-ecology combo came while Anca was on a prolonged visit to South Africa. 
“I went to a place where they kept lions in a fenced area, to make it easier for rich people, who probably pay a lot of money, to come there and shoot lions,” she recalls.  
One thing led to another, and Anca developed a passion for “bringing plastic waste to life, letting these colorful abandoned pieces tell the story of plastic pollution and how it affects the environment, wildlife and ultimately comes back to us humans.” 
Over the years she has participated in group exhibitions and had her own solo shows, producing alluring creations with a powerful, often oxymoronic, subtext. 
“Every piece is inspired by real-life events, scientific facts and sad truths that I believe art can help us face,” Anca explains. “The battle between the vibrant colors of plastic and the persistent black element in all my works represent both the role of this material in our society and consumerism, while reminding us of the dark side of plastic and the results of our behavior.”
For more information about “Love, Death & Plastic” and Anca’s work: www.evi-art.com

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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