What can objects from the pre-plastic era teach us?
Can historic objects provide answers in our present quest for sustainability? The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam invited four young designers to respond to a collection piece of their choice. Their findings are on display in Plastic Crush, a new exhibition about a world full of plastic and our changing relationship with this malleable material. The exhibition launches at the Tropenmuseum on 5 November.
Designers Jie Chen, Daria Biryukova, Gunda Strauberga, and Lena Winterink participated in the Young Talents programme. Guided by Leonne Cuppen, initiator of The Embassy of Rethinking Plastic, and the museum, they explored the depot, and each picked an object from the Plastic Crush exhibition. The designers researched the materials and ingredients people used in the past, looked for the stories that came with the objects, and reflected upon the dreams of the original designers and users. These elements served to inspire their new work.
From engineered nature to the value of colours
Using a DIY kit of plastic flowers from Turkey from the 1980s, Gundega Strauberga reflects on the malleability of nature and presents an artificial garden and store in one. Daria Biryukova explores the value of colours with a set of synthetic colours from 1983 that were used on shadow puppets for a Karagöz theatre in Turkey. She interviewed several experts, and her eight works of art display eight unique colours, both synthetic and natural.
Stories behind objects and their origins
Jie Chin has taken a 19th-century carrying basket with a water pitcher and a bamboo phone from Indonesia as the starting point in her search for new ways to hold on to the memories and stories behind these objects and to explore sustainable materials in the process. She presents a narrative atlas written on porcelain paper.
Lena Winterink chose five garments produced on different continents. She explores the materials of the fashion we wear, where they come from and who decides what information ends up on the labels. On display is a cloak made entirely from dozens of ‘Made in’ labels cut from discarded garments.
Pop-up exhibition Dutch Design Week
The Young Talents project illustrates the value of a museum collection in the current debate surrounding sustainability in the design world. The designers’ works will be introduced at Yksi Expo during the upcoming Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. Here, visitors will also get a preview of the Tropenmuseum exhibition.
About Plastic Crush
The Plastic Crush exhibition at the Tropenmuseum is about our changing relationship with plastic. The old dream that plastic would improve the world turned into fear of a world awash in plastic waste. Plastic Crush shows the different ways people around the world live with items made from plastic. Personal and local stories, objects from the museum’s collection, contemporary art and plastic icons are linked to the global systems that introduced and spread the material.
Plastic Crush – Launches on 5 November 2022 - Tropenmuseum Amsterdam
Pop-up expo Plastic Crush - 22 - 30 October, Dutch Design Week - Yksi Expo, Eindhoven
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