The biggest problem in nature according to the World Wide for Nature (WWF) actually isn’t climate change, at least for the oceans, but the abundance of plastic waste.
This came as a surprise for photographer Neal Oshima, whose wife works for the WWF, and was even more alarmed to find out that that the Philippines is the third-highest polluter of the oceans. These facts prompted the team behind Art Fair Philippines to approach the sexagenarian and ask him to make a special exhibit.
Oshima contacted Olivia D’Aboville, who he knew had worked on plastics for her installations, and the French-Filipino designer immediately said yes as one of her previous special exhibits focused on the same theme, that is, plastic waste pollution in the oceans.
Stepping out to do what’s needed
Professionally speaking, an installation such as “Plastics in Our Oceans” is something neither Oshima nor D’Aboville does; Oshima has been doing photography for 40 years, while D’Aboville specializes in tapestry and textile structures through weaving.
“To do something that is more in-your-face and aggressive is not probably not what we would normally do, but we just felt it was what was needed for this problem,” says Oshima. As a person who has been through decades of environmental issues, he reiterates the necessity for such a piece.
But given the opportunity, both artists would create an awareness-inspired piece again outside their comfort zone, provided it wouldn’t be rushed as “Plastics in Our Oceans” (they started putting the project together just a few weeks before Art Fair Philippines 2019).
They give credit to all the community weavers who helped put the plastics together, and all the people who helped retrieve the plastics from the ocean sites. “It wouldn’t have happened without all of them,” Oshima ends.