Location (see map): South Bank, London
Installation Date: 2016
Plasticide is perhaps Jason deCaires Taylor’s most overtly political work to date. It is a rallying cry to consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers, authorities and policy makers to urgently work together to stem the flow of plastic into our oceans.
The artwork was produced in collaboration with Greenpeace and was installed in the public thoroughfare outside the National Theatre on London’s Southbank. Like Taylor’s previous London exhibit, The Rising Tide, Plasticide was viewable for only a short time in a high-traffic location. The work was subsequently used by Greenpeace and dumped at the entrance of Coca Cola head quarters in Central London to raise awareness of the company’s destructive practices.
At first glance, Plasticide presents a family scene familiar to us all – a day at the beach. Mum and Dad cozy up together, their faces turned towards the sun. Son and daughter don the attire of a typical trip to the seaside: water wings, swimming goggles, swim suits. Yet for the children this is not a joyful occasion. While their parents are oblivious in their holiday reverie, seabirds vomit a rainbow of plastic waste they have mistaken for food.
The message of Plasticide is stark: plastic pollution in our oceans has reached industrial scale. Over 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs. Plastic is found in a third of UK fish and it is calculated that shellfish eaters are ingesting up to 11,000 plastic fragments in their seafood each year. We have a diet rich in plastic.
Plasticide is a rare terrestrial piece from Taylor, though it uses 2.5 tonnes of his trademark pH neutral marine cement. The plastic waste used in the work was retrieved from the ocean by German marine clean up organisation Cleaner Ocean Upcycling Productions.
Commissioned by: Greenpeace
Materials: Concrete, Jesmonite, marine microplastic
Through my work, I have seen first-hand the growing mountains of plastic in the sea. The presence of plastic is a visceral reminder of humankind’s impact on our environment: jarring, destructive and almost indestructible. Through Plasticide I want to bring this message back to our cities: our oceans, and the marine life which inhabits them, can’t stomach any more plastic.Jason deCaires Taylor