This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Basia Goszczynska.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
Most people are already aware of the negative effects marine debris has on animals and ecosystems. It’s easy to feel depressed when faced with plastic pollution statistics and easier still to feel disheartened when you realize how our daily consumption habits perpetuate resource wars and needless suffering around the planet. I don't, however, put our trash on display to remind viewers of how dire our situation is (though I do believe that raising awareness is an important component of the environmental movement). Instead, I make art out of trash because I want to create something positive and generative from out of the mess. My creative process allows me the opportunity to think differently about our waste and to consider it as a highly valuable resource instead of a dangerous nuisance. I hope that my work helps to dispel the very concept of being able to throw an object “away” and, ultimately, helps people reassess their own attitudes towards their trash.
Trap 7, 2017, Marine debris
What is an artist’s responsibility?
If we are to change our ingrained habits of wastefulness and secure a habitable planet for ourselves and for future generations, we first have to feel hopeful and empowered. Artists can choose to be responsible for any number of things, but I personally feel compelled to make work that cultivates this badly needed optimism. My strategy entails redressing the value of discarded objects, which are easily accessible and free to everyone, through a highly enjoyable creative process.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
Away, 2018, Marine debris, string lights, plastic sheeting, 10'H x 15'W x 12'D
Away was a significant installation for me because it was the first time that I recruited help from environmentalists in the sourcing of marine debris. Thanks to instagram and hashtags such as #thisisaway, #refusethestraw, and #beachcleanup, I was able to engage with dozens of activists and crowdsource thousands of straws and microplastics from Australia and Hawai'i.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
I do my best to be optimistic, so there are no impossible projects on my list. I do however have several ideas for works that are insanely ambitious and for which I will need a lot of additional resources. One such project is a massive beach-like installation created from several tons of crowdsourced microplastics. Visitors will be invited to lounge and socialize within the installation on colorful beach chairs and towels.
Haul 1, 2017, Marine debris
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
I draw a lot of inspiration from Jodie Mack, Mandy Barker, and Pam Longobardi because of how creatively they utilize discarded objects in their art. If you aren't familiar with their work yet, I highly recommend looking them up.
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: Swell, 2016, Marine debris, cemetery dumpster flowers, used plastic bags, salvaged wire, aluminum, rubber, eps foam and cinder blocks, 15'W x 10'H x 9'D)