Excellent social commentary piece: Alejandro Durán

Posted on 26.08.2011


Project website:

About the Artist, from his website:
Alejandro Durán is a photographer, filmmaker and poet with roots planted in New York and Mexico. His fine art photographic work has focused on nature and portraiture, including a series from his extensive travel throughout Latin America. 

Project Statement (quoted from website):
Washed Up is an ongoing project by Mexican-born, New York-based artist Alejandro Durán that addresses the issue of plastic pollution making its way across the ocean and onto the shores of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally protected reserve. With more than twenty pre-Colombian archaeological sites, this UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to a vast array of flora and fauna and the world’s second largest coastal barrier reef. Unfortunately, Sian Ka’an is also a repository for the world’s trash, which is carried there by ocean currents from every corner of the globe.

Starting in February 2010 and over subsequent visits, Durán has used this international detritus to create his color-based, site-specific sculptures. He conflates the hand of man and nature, distributing the objects the way the waves would, like wind-scattered seed or roots tunneling through soil, echoing the organic forms of the surrounding landscape. In order to photograph the sculptures, Durán uses a mix of natural and artificial light, further blurring the line between existing and constructed realities.

 Over the course of this project, Durán has identified products washed ashore from forty-two nations on six continents. 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 disposable culture. Although inspired by the works of Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Smithson, Washed Up speaks to the environmental concerns of our time and its vast quantity of discarded materials. Beyond turning trash into treasure, the alchemy of Washed Up lies in the project’s potential to raise awareness and change our relationship to consumption and waste.

My thoughts:
I can totally see the Andy Goldsworthy influence here, and even before I read that he is inspired by the man, that’s who I thought of. I think that’s a good thing, when we can see some inspiration of other artists in our work. Because, really, what is our art but the thoughts, emotions and art of the world around us and those that we love the most?

I love everything about this series. I love what he’s trying to communicate. I love the color and the compositions. I love the quality of the shots and the times of day. I love the time that obviously went into planning and collecting. I really can’t wait to look at the rest of his work, and hope that I can aspire to make something so beautiful in the future.

Posted in: art