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Museum of Plastic

written by BAZ-ART
on the 01, Jul, 2021

Through the support of the British Council, we are working across countries to produce the “The Museum of Plastic”. The online museum forms part of a series of ground-breaking creative commissions that bring together art, science and digital technology and offers innovative, interdisciplinary and collaborative responses to climate change. The commissions will be part of the cultural programme in the build-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), hosted by Glasgow, UK from 1-12 November 2021. 

The creation of the Museum of Plastic has begun, and will be ready to launch towards the end of this year! Our selected local South African mural artists kicked off their creative journey by meeting the community representatives from across Cape Town, where the artists will be painting plastic pollution themed murals. For inspiration and insight, they participated in an eye-opening talk shop with Candice Mostert from Waste Ed and The Two Ocean Aquariums’ Education Department and afterwards explored the 3D world of painting murals in Virtual Reality.

Artist and community workshop briefing at Two Oceans Aquarium

This project combines the technical expertise of Cooperative Innovations and their new platform Curatours (an Innovate-UK funded platform for social museum experience in mobile and VR) and Baz-Art, a creative NGO that transforms public spaces through urban art, combined with the impact, activism and public art projects of Greenpop (who empower green communities and restore ecosystems in Sub-Saharan South Africa) and their Eden Festival of Action. Cooperative Innovations (UK), Baz-Art (South Africa), Greenpop (South Africa) and 6 artists will co-create an immersive “Museum of Plastic” on the Curatours platform. This will be a virtual museum/gallery set in the future, looking back to a version of the present wherein single-use plastics have been banned and climate destruction has been averted through the actions of 21st-century activists.

Cheeky Observers’ Plastic Pollution themed mural at Hout Bay Habour – Cape Town

The Museum of Plastic exhibition will combine science/nature education, 3D objects, and 360° experiences to allow visitors to virtually experience a site together in a social virtual experience. The murals produced in South Africa will be digitally inserted into the Museum of Plastic Platform. As a further activation, each artist will be trained on how to sculpt and paint within Virtual Reality, and their VR creations will be featured online, and alongside their mural artwork. 

Artist Dirty Native painting in Virtual Reality

The Museum platform, Curatours will be accessible through smart devices (Cellphones, laptops and tablets) and VR headsets, ensuring that groups of international active citizens and virtual experience seekers can easily have social, learning-based experiences around the exhibition. The Platform is set to launch toward the end of 2021.

Ellena Lourens’ VR World with her mural in Hout Bay

Why are we doing it?

Our blue planet is facing one of its biggest threats in human history. IUCN describes how more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, making up 80% of all marine debris. This plastic pollution threatens biodiversity and marine life, as well as food safety and quality, human health, and coastal tourism. As a petroleum product, plastic also contributes to global warming driving climate change as fossil fuels are consumed and greenhouse gasses are released during its production and break-down. The World Economic Forum projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. 

In South Africa, a 2015 survey of beach litter led by Professor Peter Ryan and Professor Coleen Moloney found that 94% of litter washing up on South African beaches is plastics, of which 77% is packaging. In 2011, South Africa was ranked globally as the 11th worst offender for releasing plastic waste into the sea. South Africa is also the 14th largest emitter of CO2 globally and is a thought leader for sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting a duty-of-care to contribute a meaningful response to climate change for the region. 

Although plastic pollution in general, and ocean plastics specifically are not new or novel topics, governments, private sector and communities may be complacent of this issue or unaware of their potential roles, responsibilities and advocacy opportunities in addressing this global problem. Although individuals and communities of action are operating locally, there is a gap for a global platform for discussion and showcasing solutions, strategies and achievements. 

Ras Silas Motse working on his mural in Langa, Cape Town

Sponsored by the British Council

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