Environmental art took new meaning recently as art students at a Brazilian university trawled the ocean for their medium of choice – trash.
A group of students at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University combed the shores of the city’s Guanabara Bay for the material they needed, and it was much easier to find than it should have been. Tires, CDs, plastic bottles, doll parts, traffic cones, and metal wire culled from the shore became sculptures of octopi, dolphins, and other denizens of the ocean, now on display in on-campus art show, “The Sea’s Not Fit for Fish.” It took nothing more than a long walk on the beach to pick up the detritus they needed for the project.
In recent years, Guanabara Bay has seen mass fish die-offs and the loss of 90% of its dolphin population. Ill-kept garbage and sewage systems as well as contamination from the oil industry have left Rio’s waterway a veritable dumping ground. Meanwhile, the bay is set to be the site of the Olympic sailing events in the upcoming 2016 games. The city’s attempt to ramp up the cleaning effort – now 20 years in the making – looks like it will fall short of next year’s games. But with any luck, the student art show will encourage every day people and government alike to do their part to clean up the bay. Yes, some sick Olympians would be bad, but won’t somebody think of the dolphins?