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Centro Culturale Candiani : James Whitlow Delano : Inghiottiti dalla plastica / Drowning in Plastic


Drowning in Plastic: an exhibition for awareness

James Whitlow Delano‘s exhibition Inghiottiti dalla plastica / Drowning in Plastic at the Centro Culturale Candiani in Venice Mestre tells of the ubiquitous problem of plastic waste, which affects all countries in a more or less visible way. If the damage is immediately visible in open-air dumps, in cities and the countryside, among abandoned or improperly recycled rubbish, or on the coastlines where endless forms of bins and other things wash up, the danger also exists when it is less visible, such as when it is linked to microplastics, which with their contaminants can move up the food chain until they reach us.

After all, Delano says, “Plastic is literally in every corner of the planet. In 2019, researchers found microplastic in Arctic ice in greater concentrations than in the surrounding Arctic Ocean waters – the same year, explorers found plastic in the Marianas Trench in the Pacific, the deepest place on the planet”.

In fact, plastic has been found in soil, rivers, air and on remote islands and lands.

“Large areas of plastic accumulation caused by currents exist in all the world’s oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea is considered the sixth ‘plastic island’, exceeding the maximum tolerable limit for the presence of microplastics. Plastic breaks into smaller and smaller pieces – of plastic from zooplankton, the tiny organisms at the base of the marine food chain, and these micro- and nanoscopic fragments can be ingested by marine organisms and release into them the toxic substances of which they are composed and those they have absorbed from the environment”.

By 2017, the world had produced a total of 8.3 billion cubic tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans. most of it ends up in landfills, but another 8 million cubic tonnes each year end up in the oceans. The Municipality of Venice has taken action on this issue, has long been at the top in Italy in terms of separate waste collection index, and is now also the first municipality in Italy to join the ‘Plastic Smart Cities’ initiative, promoted by the WWF, intending to combat the dispersion of plastic in nature, promoting correct disposal and reduce the use of unnecessary plastic.

According to the Japan-based documentary storyteller, who has been a professional photographer since 1987 and has lived in Asia for over 20 years, “A visit to a home center in Tokyo, where I live, is to fully immerse in the spectrum of plastics – carbon-fiber this, Teflon that, shelves full of plastic artificial turf, plastic faux-wood floors, shiny-plastic rice cookers and coffee makers; plastic plants in plastic pots – shampoo, soap, skin lotions and make-up packaged in every color of the plastic rainbow. Even 60% of our clothes are made from synthetic fibers – plastic. Aisle upon aisle of cheap, polyester, Lycra and acrylic clothing – spanning all age categories”.

Delano, who is a grantee for Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, founded EverydayClimateChange (ECC) Instagram feed in 2015, where photographers from six continents document Climate Change all over the world. His work has been published in magazines such as National Geographic, Geo Magazine, The New York Times.

Paola Sammartano


The exhibition at the Centro Culturale Candiani is realised in collaboration with PhotoOp.

James Whitlow Delano : Inghiottiti dalla plastica / Drowning in Plastic
From March 23 to May 12, 2024
Centro Culturale Candiani
piazza Candiani, 7
30174 Venezia Mestre – Venice

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