Posted by: Karen Quinn Fung | July 30, 2011

Tangled dolphins: a plastic protest in public space

Did anyone happen to see this in Vancouver on Friday, July 29th  at the corner of Georgia and Thurlow streets? The above image has been making the rounds on Facebook. It shows a piece of public art that depicts dolphins, adorned with properly-scaled plastic rings — the kind that hold six-packs of pop and beer cans together.  The dolphins are tangled, cruelly caught up in the tentacles of plastic.  An all-too-common side-effect of real six-pack rings is magnified for all to see.

The visual is dark, subversive, witty even – in that culture jamming sort of way. It brings home, in a brash and in-your-face manner, the devastating material effect human actions have on ecosystems.  It’s part of a guerrilla installation by the Plastic Pollution Coalition.   According to Taina Utto, who directed the stunt:

  • The ring is plastic, but had already been produced by an ad agency when the Plastic Pollution Coalition was approached. “We agreed that the positive media attention would be worth us putting our name on it.”
  • On the ironic use of plastic: “even though we never would have made it out of plastic ourselves, I feel like it can add effectiveness to the stunt. The more people talk, the better. If that angers people, then good! Let that anger (and conversation) guide our own personal behaviours.” What do you think?
  • “We now own the ring, and will be reusing it over and over again in stunts across Canada and the US.

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