Plastic pollution can be likened to an indestructible monster that rears its ugly head everytime you cross heaps of discarded non-biodegradable trash that is taking over our cities. It’s easy to see why plastic is such a hit; it is convenient, does its job well, and is so versatile that it can be used pretty much everywhere in everything. But once its work is done and discarded, it poses a massive threat to the ecosystem – something many of us like to forget for its sheer usefulness. Earlier this year, the Maharashtra government decided to impose a ban on disposable plastic items, making it the 18th state in the country to take such a drastic step towards environment conservation. However, a ban such as this can only be implemented effectively when followed up with equally effective execution –– quite a feat in a city the size of Mumbai that houses more that 1.5 crore people.
To make things a little simpler, Maharashtra State Innovation Society along with Floating Canvas Company, a Mumbai-based creative start-up set out bring about awareness about responsible disposal of plastic waste with their installation of a ‘Plastic Monster’. “A monster that can only be defeated with awareness, collaboration and positive action,” reads their tagline. The installation titled ‘It Never Goes Away’ is conceptualised by Mumbai-based visual artist SAGE, and has been executed by Arthat Studio. The initiative is also supported by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited (MSRDC). Inaugurated on March 5, 2019, the 26-foot-tall installation is located at Bandra Worli Sea Link promenade and shows a “monster’ making its way out of the sea, all-set to wreak havoc.
We spoke with Rahul Singh Yadav, chief curator at Floating Canvas Company to get better acquainted with the newest addition to Mumbai –– The Plastic Monster.
HG: What was the inspiration behind creating this unique installation?
Yadav: Living in a coastal megacity like Mumbai, the reality of marine plastic pollution is something one just can’t ignore. The idea was to make a statement about it in a way that would resonate with people at large.
HG: Talk us through the process with respect to conceptualising the vision?
Yadav: Commonly, human fears have always been manifested as monsters and ghosts, human-like forms made popular by folklore or movies. But we don’t fear the real monsters. Monsters like climate change, plastic pollution or other ecological problems the way they should be feared. The thought was to use the outline of the common manifestation of human fear, something anthropomorphic, to convey what we really need to fear and address.
HG: What impact did you aim to have and what have been people’s reactions to the installation?
Yadav: The primary aim was awareness about the issue at hand. The fact that discarded plastic that ends up in the sea actually makes its way back in sinister ways was something that wasn’t getting highlighted enough. The idea was to push this message to the forefront.
The response has been very positive. Apart from appreciation and feedback from people at the installation site as well as social media there have been requests to extend the display period as well as recreate it at other locations and cities.
HG: What were the challenges in creating a piece of art with such a strong message?
Yadav: The biggest challenge was to not compromise with the aesthetics and message of the project in any way. The other challenge was setting it all up at a public space like the Bandra Reclamation Promenade without causing any discomfort to the regular visitors like joggers and sightseers.
HG: How did you integrate sustainability with respect to the creation of the monster?
Yadav: All the plastic waste that has gone towards making this installation has been sourced in collaboration with MCGM’s waste segregation unit in Bandra and together we will ensure proper collection and treatment of the same once the installation period is over. It was also ensured that the set-up process didn’t pollute the surroundings in any way.
HG: What is the role of art and design in bringing about positive change?
Art and design have the power to carry messages across language and geography. And when we deal with issues that affect us all, the role of art and design in crafting relevant messages, carrying them far and wide and effecting positive change becomes even more crucial.
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