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Sara Ullström

Sara Ullström

PhD Student

Sara Ullström

Making visible, rendering obscure : Reading the plastic crisis through contemporary artistic visual representations

Author

  • Ekaterina Chertkovskaya
  • Karl Holmberg
  • Moa Petersén
  • Johannes Stripple
  • Sara Ullström

Summary, in English

Since the mid-twentieth century, plastic has become a ubiquitous material. However, its produc- tion, consumption and disposal on a massive scale have led to a range of devastating conse- quences that together form the ‘plastic crisis’. This paper presents a novel mapping of the ways contemporary artistic visual representations narrate and politicize the plastic crisis through their different messages and aesthetics. Drawing on a multifaceted understanding of the plastic crisis and on how art navigates political and aesthetic spheres, an analysis of 35 artworks is con- ducted. Ocean plastic pollution emerges as a dominant theme, together with disposability; and these are connected to consumption patterns and consumer responsibility. However, less atten- tion is given to plastic’s dependence on fossil fuels and possible toxicity. The result is art of strik- ing beauty and emotional resonance, but that downplays the systemic nature of the plastic crisis and the urgent need to hold manufacturers and regulators to account.

Department/s

  • Environmental and Energy Systems Studies
  • Department of Political Science
  • Division of ALM and Digital Cultures
  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

Publishing year

2020-05-12

Language

English

Publication/Series

Global Sustainability

Volume

3

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Topic

  • Visual Arts

Keywords

  • art
  • disposability
  • fossil dependency
  • pollution
  • plastic

Status

Published

Project

  • Narrating Climate Futures
  • REINVENT Realising Innovation in Transitions for Decarbonisation
  • STEPS – Sustainable Plastics and Transition Pathways, Phase 1

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 2059-4798