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An Exhibit Made of Trash Inspires Environmental Activism  — Arts & Culture on Bushwick Daily

An Exhibit Made of Trash Inspires Environmental Activism

In this VR-infused installation you can see the amount of microplastics we inhale daily.

Savannah Camastro

sjcamastro@gmail.com

If you’ve ever wondered what all of your trash looks like piled up in one room, Arcadia Earth, a new installation located in NOHO, has got you covered. Founded and designed by Italian artist and designer Valentino Vettori, the 15-room immersive exhibition opened last month and is here to raise awareness to humanity’s role in the health of our environment.

Covering the major issues, the ones threatening our very existence, like overfishing, plastic pollution, food waste, deforestation, and climate change, each room is designed to inform visitors on the state of our environment and the breadth of human impact on the planet. 

VR Room. Image Courtesy of Arcadia Earth

“Focusing on individual empowerment, each installation provides educational commentary uncovering inconvenient truths about the future of our planet – like the fact that we ingest the equivalent of one credit card a week in microplastics – accompanied by easily actionable suggestions to inspire everyone to become part of the solution,” their press release states.

The entire exhibition is participatory; before entering, viewers can download the Arcadia Earth app on their phones, which then serve as a VR guide throughout the course of the exhibit. Each room has its own VR world: through your screen you can see animated jellyfish, stingrays, deer, as well as floating microplastics around you. 

“We don’t know how much plastic is in the air around us because we can’t see it. The app helps people see the amount of particles in the air and the ocean,” Vettori, who also created the augmented reality animations, told Bushwick Daily. 

The underground oasis is made completely of upcycled materials and reusable elements, visitors can find themselves standing next to a tidal wave made of waste from office buildings and in a forest of TENCEL™, a recyclable alternative to cotton. The first room of the exhibition, created by Brooklyn-based artist, Basia Goszczynska, is a cave made up of 44,000 plastic bags, representing the number used in the state per minute. 

All the rooms are mirrored, an intentional asset that not only triggers the now instinctual response to pull out your phone and snap a selfie in the midst of recycled artworks, but also serves as a reminder of your place on earth, and that your existence is a contributing factor to our environment. 

“People go to the Museum of Ice Cream and take pictures of buckets of sprinkles.” Vettori said, while looking at honeycombs of recycled library book paper. “I want to make the same sort of impact, but impactful installations require beauty. That is why I teamed up with these artists to create something beautiful out of materials that are otherwise thrown away.”  

Towards the end of the exhibition, viewers are presented with four vows they can make to help the environment: waste no food, stop using single use plastic, eat less meat, and shop responsibly, all buzzing in neons above full-length mirrors. “These are the four vows I made to myself when I first learned of the extent of our environmental impact,” said Vettori. 

Vettori learned of the state of urgency our environment is in through Regeneration Magazine. Regeneration Magazine, a Bushwick-based publication, is one of the main organizations behind the installation. The magazine “highlights creatives, thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs who are making waves in the environmental movement and changing the conversation about climate change,” their website states. With Arcadia Earth, Regeneration is hosting a pop-up shop in the Arcadia Earth space, where visitors can find products “from brands that have been vetted and meet the four core requirements: conflict-free, cruelty-free, non-toxic and sweatshop-free.” 

The Regeneration Mag x Arcadia Earth pop-up shop

Arcadia Earth will be open for the next six months and is open everyday of the week except for Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary: $33 for adults, $27 for students, and $12 for kids under the age of 14. With each ticket purchased, a tree is planted.  

After its time in the city, Vettori and the Arcadia Earth team hopes to take the exhibition on tour: “I want to get as much exposure as possible. If everyone knows about the small changes they can make to help the environment, things will start to get better.”

To see more photos of the installation, check out Arcadia Earth on Instagram, tickets can be bought here.


All images courtesy of Arcadia Earth.

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