UNWRAPPING: Desire, Allure and the Culture of Single Use Plastic

This exhibition engages with the Clarence community to break down our complex relationship with plastics, tackling our urgent environmental issues

Unwrapping topper

This exhibition is the outcome of a 12 month collaboration between the Lower Clarence Arts Group, Cowper Art Gallery and Studio, McAuley Catholic College; and local artists Cassandra-lyn Palmer, Kerrie Bowles, Julianne Gosper, Linda Coombs, Deborah McLennan, Cynthia McDermott, Suzanne Monin, Toni Simpson, Diane Nixon, Michelle Worley and Pamela Denise and GAS artists Maurice Goldberg and Matthew Aberline.

This exhibition explores the GAS’s fascination with the tantalising, decorative aspects of consumerism and commercial packaging, endevouring to break down our complex relationship with plastics, while raising awareness and tackling our urgent environmental issues.

What draws us to the shiny, colour saturated surfaces, and how does it create in us a sense of value and status? How can such a powerful object of desire become completely worthless the moment it is discarded?

The cheap cost of production, lightweight and flexible nature of plastic has made it a seductive and popular material industrially and in the home from the early 20th century onwards. Intoxicated by these qualities,
at the close of the Second World War, the mass production of plastic goods began to escalate. With no touchstone for the devastating environmental impact of plastic materials it is no surprise that the planet has become inundated by non-biodegradable waste in eighty years. Plastic does not decompose, rather, fragments and deteriorates into increasingly smaller pieces. 

A report commissioned by the Australian federal government established that less that 10 per cent of all plastic used in Australia was recycled in 2017-2018.  Despite decades of effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, the highly involved process needed to clean and process plastic, large scale recycling efforts are often unviable. Almost all plastic waste is generated from packaging.

Despite increasing awareness of the plastic pollution crisis, and ongoing efforts to reduce single use plastics, apathy towards environmental issues continues to rise. Goldberg Aberline Studio’s art practice breaks this cycle of waste, revealing an unexpected future for single use plastics. 

The exhibition has been supported by CompostMe / PA Packaging Solutions.

Image credit: Goldberg Aberline Studio UNWRAPPING (detail), 2020, single use plastic, variable. Courtesy of Goldberg Aberline Studios

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