The Plastic Republic of the Ocean. 2017
A new plastic country
This a story of migration, nationalism and pollution. A story of oceanic flows. Of migratory flows. Our narrative of fiction strives —paradoxically— to cast a light on the truth.
The piece tells the story of a group of refugees who fled our civilisation and settled overnight on the Great Pacific garbage patch, founding a new sovereign state. Refused by society, they decided to sail and conquer the world’s largest landmass. Which is not a continent: it’s completely made of plastic.
Through the portraits of its inhabitants we are exploring the newborn Plastic Republic of the Ocean, a country of trash floating in the middle of the sea.
Through the language of fashion photography, we created a visual series that mimics a parallel, fantastic and surreal world. We depict this fictional micro-nation by mixing an editorial and fictional reportage: a fashion mockumentary that aims to amuse as well as inform and raise people’s awareness.
Stylism and Art Direction
Each outfit depicted a different character. The photographer intended to recreate a fashion atmosphere with a surreal touch, directing the models so they would interpret their own characters and occasionally encouraging poses that may suggest a narrative development. The art direction stresses the characters’ drama through chiaroscuro. All the garments were designed and produced for the shoot. The style aimed to create hypothetical traditional clothing from the island, instead of reproducing conventional clothes made from plastic.
The Syren’s speech
In the short film accompanying the series, one of the characters has a monologue.
in the fluctuating waves of this plastic sea,
Stuck, but on a journey,
we found what we call
a sweet exhiliation.
Waves, water, coca cola bottles and mess
We are here
In a country that’s floating
A country that’s migrating
on the wide oceanic streams,
roads that connect things that have no fixed boundaries.
The only country we belong to is the sea.
Below my feet there’s the ocean,
and corals of polymers.
Our hearts are wrapped in plastic bags”
WHY A FICTIONAL REPORTAGE?
In our era of extreme information overload, emotion and fake news, a reportage should help boost our imagination, give clues and shape new perspectives. We suggest a mythology. And mythologies find their way into our subconscious minds, into our imagination and our universal capacity to hear and make sense of stories.
We ask the viewer to accept the fictional premise —the refugees who moved to the Great Pacific garbage patch— in order to shed a light on some crucial themes of our time. Among others:
1 The toxic industrial system destroying our environment and oceans.
2 The weak and unprepared response of Western countries during this era of great migrations: policies of closeness which reject human beings whose lives are threatened —in most cases— by our political systems.
3 The rise of nationalism and alt-right groups that are seen across many Western countries.
A Heap of Rubble Tossed Down in Confusion. 2018
Our soul is always drifting. Between mindfulness and confusion, one country or the other, happiness and sadness, bliss and boredom. And when we travel, is when our souls drift the most.
I had absorbed India. Of course, I had absorbed not the real India, but only the India that occurred in front of my eyes. And my eyes are definitely driven by primary colours, basic shapes, garments and objects.
Recreating in studio
When, a couple of years after visiting the country, Indian brand Badaam asked me to work with them, my whole imagery of India opened under my very own eyes. Badaam works with the handloom industry in India, alongside ateliers in Sydney to produce made-to-order garments with minimal waste. The label believes in the benefits of slow fashion, using handwoven techniques and natural fibres like raw silk. Badaam’s playful aesthetic draws on a mix of mid-century Indo-Western styles, architecture and expressionist art.
For them, I wanted to recreate the India I had seen: its vivid light, the markets, the guilty wonders of plastic, the heaps of food, the spices and the humble jobs, that female obscure beauty, the cathedrals of debris, the towers of industrial and playful bowls.
Ego is a Heap of Hubble Tossed Down in Confusion
While I was taking these photographs, something very special that I had only felt in India. My ego had never been affected when photographing a place—everything I wanted to capture was there, peacefully being. I could not keep it and take it with me, I had to let the moment pass. Observe it and let it go. I’ve probably forgotten most of the moments I did not want to forget. In the end, the photograph of a distant place is a memory captured with light. An eternal place in space seized by a finite object. There in India, I visited a lot of places: Rajasthan, Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Deogarh, Pushkar, Ranthambore, Agra, Gwalior, Varanasi and Khajuraho.
Colour is the grammar of our souls
We have been classifying everything by colors our whole lives. It is something that has been rooted in our imaginations, but we are not totally aware of it. When I traveled to India I could not believe the strong emotional reaction I had when I started seeing so many colors, so I asked myself why Indian people use colors with such exaltation. Seeing India every day felt like looking inside my own being.
That is exactly how I imagine a world: cities named after colors, lilac skies, yellow and orange clothes, people wearing red spots on their foreheads, eyes painted in black, eyes painted in blue. Even food smells like colors: saffron scent, curry scent… Colors address to the soul. India addressed to my soul.
“The most perfect world is like a heap of rubble tossed down in confusion.”
—Misquote of Heraclitus
Note: The text above was written by the Artist. No modification was made by C.O.C.A.
Olga de la Iglesia is a Barcelona-based photographer and art director whose work explores fashion through primary colors and shapes. She uses photography as his vehicle to create narratives that question the structures of society. His projects are usually based on the relationship between colors and emotions, she feel inspired by humans and by everything we’ve been creating around us, those tools that help us create objects, by those spaces where we stand and live. Olga creates a large body of his work almost solely on analogue format including 35mm and 120 film with it being featured in international publications and media.