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Plastic Capitalism. Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste

Plastic Capitalism. Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste, by Amanda Boetzkes, Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

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Publisher MIT Press writes: Ecological crisis has driven contemporary artists to engage with waste in its most non-biodegradable forms: plastics, e-waste, toxic waste, garbage hermetically sealed in landfills. In this provocative and original book, Amanda Boetzkes links the increasing visualization of waste in contemporary art to the rise of the global oil economy and the emergence of ecological thinking. Often, when art is analyzed in relation to the political, scientific, or ecological climate, it is considered merely illustrative. Boetzkes argues that art is constitutive of an ecological consciousness, not simply an extension of it. The visual culture of waste is central to the study of the ecological condition.

Can blood ever be a material like any other?

Some 500 million animals are slaughtered every year for consumption in the Netherlands. The figures are even more horrifying if you look at the number of animals slaughtered for food every second. But while parts of these animals end up on your plate, they also generate a lot of ‘waste material’. Only 30 percent of the cow blood for example will be dried and used in fertilizers. The remaining 70 percent will be sterilised and discharged into the sewer system.


Basse Stittgen, Blood Related, 2017-ongoing

Basse Stittgen, Blood Related, 2017-ongoing

Designer Basse Stittgen transforms these leftover of the meat industry into a dark, organic and versatile bioplastic. He uses the discarded body fluid as a biomaterial that he dries, heat-presses and then turns into a protein-based biopolymer from which he crafts small objects. Various pieces of dinnerware are direct reminders of the consumption of animals. Small egg holders that can be stacked into a totem that evokes the mystical sides of blood. A jewellery box invites us to question the value of blood, and perhaps also the value of animals after their death. The designer even created a record playing the heartbeat of a pig.

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