Alejandro Duran, Washed Up, 2010
New York based artist, Alejandro Duran, is creating art from trash that washes up on the beaches of Sian Ka’an, in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Although Sian Ka’an is a federally-protected reserve, the Mexican government cannot prevent the area from becoming the final resting place for trash from all over the world. Duran collects the trash, categorizes the different pieces by color, strips them of labels, arranges his collections in the landscape, and then photographs them. The playful titles of the photographs, such as Nubes, Fruta Negra, and Mar (pictured above) belie the perverse horror of waste which will never biodegrade–carelessly discarded by people who believe what they can’t see won’t hurt them–travelling on the open seas and eventually choking the life of a nature reserve thousands of miles away.
Duran also creates “Product Portraits,” which he labels with the product’s country of origin. After photographing these items, Duran uses his own funds to cart the trash to recycling centers. However, this is an extremely difficult undertaking for one artist working under the constraints of time, money and geography.
Washed Up is truly an exercise in “archiving the city,” if we imagine that cities all around the world create these waste-images of themselves, carried by currents to far-away places.