TALK: Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape

with artist Alejandro Durán

Washed Up
is an environmental installation and photography project that transforms the international debris washing up on Mexico’s Caribbean coast into aesthetic yet disquieting works.

Over the course of this project Durán has identified plastic waste from fifty-three nations and territories on six continents that have washed ashore along the coast of Sian Ka'an, Mexico’s largest federally protected reserve and an UNESCO World Heritage site. He has used this international debris to create color-based, site-specific installations, which conflate the hand of man and nature. At times he distributes the objects the way the waves would; at other times, the plastic mimics algae, roots, rivers, or fruit, reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment.

More than creating a surreal or fantastical landscape, these installations mirror the reality of our current environmental predicament. The resulting photo series depicts a new form of colonization by consumerism, where even undeveloped land is not safe from the far-reaching impact of our culture of disposable products. The alchemy of Washed Up lies not only in converting a trashed landscape but in the project’s potential to raise awareness and change our relationship to consumption and waste.

Alejandro Duran Headshot

Born in Mexico City in 1974, Alejandro Durán lives and works as a multimedia artist in Brooklyn, NY. Through photography, installation and video, his work examines the fraught intersections of man and nature, particularly revealing the pervasive impact of consumer culture on the natural world. His work has been exhibited internationally and featured in publications such as Art & Ecology Now (Thames & Hudson), Unexpected Art (Chronicle Books), and Photo Viz (Gestalten). Durán is also a museum educator, photography/video instructor and the founder of video production company Luma Projects.

This event is made possible in part by the Kurz Foundation

PhotoSummer logo final big

This event is part of PhotoSummer 2016, a collaborative initiative that strives to represent and actively promote historical and contemporary photography in New Mexico. Taking the rich legacy of photography in New Mexico as a point of departure, the exhibitions and public programs around PhotoSummer embody the continued energy and support of the photographic arts in the region. Organized by UNM Art Museum, 516 ARTS and CENTER, PhotoSummer 2016 features a series of exhibitions, talks, workshops and events in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.