Plastic, Oil Culture and the Ethics of Waste


How do we grapple with the ubiquity of plastics, and the fact that they are not a localized, but rather a global waste belonging to everyone and no one? Plastics make visible a stratigraphy of oil capital and oil cultures. This article examines several artworks and film projects that disclose the aesthetic appeal of plastics while subtly criticizing their ecological impact. These artworks expose trash in a variety of forms and help us visualize, acknowledge, and critique larger systems in which plastic waste circulates and operates.