The Big Trash Animals series by Bordalo ii are created out of trash, lots of trash and most often plastics, to bring much-needed awareness to waste production, waste pollution and its effects on wildlife.
The first synthetic plastic, Bakelite, was produced in 1907, marking the beginning of the global plastics industry. However, rapid growth in global plastic production began in the 1950s. Over the next 70 years, the annual production of plastics increased nearly 230-fold to 460 million tonnes in 2019. From 1950 to 2019, the world produced 9.5 billion tonnes of plastic. Of the 5800 million tonnes of primary plastic no longer in use, only 9 per cent has been recycled since 1950. Plastic waste ends up in landfills, incinerated or in the ocean.
Every Big Trash Animal the artist creates is in danger because of waste. The very thing the artist uses to create his animals is the same thing that is killing them.
There are three critical pathways by which plastic debris can affect wildlife. Entanglement – the entrapping, encircling or constricting of marine animals by plastic waste. Ingestion of plastic can occur unintentionally, intentionally, or indirectly through ingesting prey species containing plastic. Interaction – interaction includes collisions, obstructions, abrasions or use as a substrate.
The first part of The Big Trash Animals series started with the Neutral subseries. These animals were constructed of waste materials, and paint was used to produce the animal in a realistic style. Bordalo ii has just finished Big Trash Hawk in Portugal, which was created in line with his original neutral style (last image).
The Neutral series then evolved and partially exposed the plastics and materials used for their composition. Thus, Half Half began to dominate the artist’s Big Trash Animal series. One side of the animal was neutral, more realistic, and the other was raw material, devoid of paint and represented more abstractly. The Half Half subseries exposed more of the waste that was killing the animals. Also, a signal that the amount of waste production increasing over the years.
As a natural evolution of the sequence brought by the pieces Neutral and Half Half, Plastic animals lose their camouflage completely to display only the natural colours of plastics and other discarded objects used as raw material. This is a powerful message about the extinction of some of our species.
The artist’s goal is to generate an emotional relationship between the big trash animals and those who observe them, promoting the questioning of our acts and habits and, who knows, their subsequent transformation and evolution.
Photo Credit Trash King Bordalo ii