ALEJANDRO DURÁN / Washed Up
May 24 – September 29, 2017
Washed Up is an environmental installation and photography project that transforms the international debris washing up on Mexico's Caribbean coast into aesthetic yet disquieting works.
Over the course of this project Durán has identified plastic waste from fifty-eight nations and territories on six continents that have washed ashore along the coast of Sian Ka'an, Mexico's largest federally protected reserve and an UNESCO World Heritage site. He uses this international debris to create color-based, site-specific sculptures that conflate the hand of man and nature. At times he distributes the objects the way the waves would; at other times, the plastic mimics algae, roots, rivers, or fruit, reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment.
Header image: Algas (Algae), Alejandro Durán
More than creating a surreal or fantastical landscape, these installations mirror the reality of our current environmental predicament. 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 culture of disposable products. The alchemy of Washed Up lies not only in transforming a trashed landscape, but in the project’s potential to raise awareness and change our relationship to consumption and waste.
About the Artist
Born in Mexico City in 1974, Alejandro Durán is a multimedia artist now based in Brooklyn, New York. Through photography, installation and video, his work examines the fraught intersections of man and nature, particularly revealing the pervasive impact of consumer culture on the natural world. He received an MA in Teaching from Tufts University in 1999 and an MFA in poetry from the New School for Social Research in 2001.
Durán received En Foco’s 2011 New Works Award, was included in the 2012 Bronx Biennial of Latin American Art, and was nominated for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Prix Pictet and the 2016 Prix Thun for Art and Ethics. He has exhibited his work at the Galería Octavio Paz at the Mexican consulate in New York and was Hunter College’s Artist-in-Residence for 2014-2015. Internationally, his work has been featured at Fotografie Forum Frankfurt in Germany and the Mt. Rokko International Photography Festival in Japan.
Publications include Land Art (Palette Editions, 2013), Art & Ecology Now (Thames & Hudson, 2014), and Unexpected Art (Chronicle Books, 2015). Most recently, Duran’s work will be featured in Photo Viz (Gestalten, 2016). Notable press includes National Geographic, Time, ABC News, The Huffington Post, El Diario/La Prensa, and the New York Daily News.
Durán has taught youth and adult classes in photography and video since 2002 and has worked as a museum educator at The Museum of Modern Art and The International Center of Photography. He is also the founder of video production company Luma Projects, whose clients include MoMA, The Museum of Arts & Design, and Columbia University.