Rarely do we find people in our circles to talk with who are as passionate as we are in conversations tackling topics such as environmental issues, our impact on the planet, corporations profiting while knowingly polluting communities, and the climate crisis.
You know, all the fun stuff people love to talk about.
Our world is shaped by our choices. We often ignore the silent companions of our daily lives that have enormous effects on our planet—plastic food packaging.
And it’s easy to ignore. We only see a fraction of the problem: one plastic packaging at a time. Only when public services go on strike, we see the piles of garbage in our streets.
Our art project, "The Human Foodprint," was born out of our concerns regarding the footprint we leave.
Amidst growing global warnings about our planet's well-being, we found ourselves confronted by the plastic dilemma as well.
Every trip to the store became a reminder of our collective contribution to the mountains of discarded plastic. We realized that these seemingly fleeting, often transparent and innocent packages held a much more significant story.
But what if we could bring these ghosts of consumption to life? What if we could make them visible and impossible to ignore?
Thus began our journey, seeking to give shape to the often unseen.
Every time we came into contact with the food packaging, we understood its path—from distant oil extraction to the meticulous design of packaging molds, we saw the interconnectedness. The energy spent, the resources consumed, the world transformed.
We observed the designs and their purpose to strengthen the form in which the food is held. The idea that there is an industrial designer modeling these objects was always mind-boggling to us.
For our project, we chose plaster as our medium, a material with a second life, one that could be returned to the Earth without harm. With each pour, each mold, we gave birth to THE HUMAN FOODPRINT tiles.
After the plaster forms hardened, we hand-painted selected shapes and forms of the tiles—sometimes the intentional design features of the packaging and sometimes the spaces in between.
In this moment of the process, the juxtaposition between industrially manufactured and the handcrafted pieces became omnipresent.
By painting the elements of the tiles with bold and in-your-face colors, we connected them to a larger intertwined entity, representative of the bigger picture and the pressing issue.
The colorful highlighted parts are also reminiscent of the way the packaging was presented in the aisle in the supermarkets—screaming for our attention.
As the forms multiplied, they became more than just art. They gave a glimpse of the actual amount of the same packaging thrown away—a fraction of the problem. They became like an army of aligned soldiers confronting us with our choices.
The artworks themselves are also only a fraction of the full idea. The tiles of the HUMAN FOODPRINT are meant to expand in the rooms where they are shown and to take up space. Contrary to their distant relatives, they are not meant to pollute but to improve our lives. Plaster has incredible abilities to regulate the environment by absorbing humidity when there is too much of it and releasing it when the room is dry and warm.
"The Human Foodprint" is a call to awareness, a reminder that every choice and every purchase has an impact on our world. These art pieces are the embodiment of a pressing reality!
Art has the power to shape not just aesthetics but also our understanding of the world we co-create.