The current generation is noticeably in a state of panic as news of more and more forest fires, endangered species, plastic waste, and animal extinctions threaten the planet and flood everyone’s news feed. Enter Artur Bordalo, also known as Bordalo II. This Portuguese multimedia artist is celebrated for his series of artworks that aim to draw attention to the problem of waste production, pollution, and their effects on wildlife. Bordalo II specializes in “trash” art, taking nonbiodegradable objects to create installation pieces.
From Junk to Artworks: Bordalo II’s Big Trash Animals
Here are some facts humanity could use right now:
- Over 80% of items buried in landfills could be recycled instead.
- The main human contributor to environmental pollution are landfills.
- Recycling half the world’s paper would free 20 million acres of forest land and its inhabitants.
- One million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
- 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species, and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
“I belong to a generation that is extremely consumerist, materialist and greedy,” says Bordalo II. “With the production of things at its highest, the production of ‘waste’ and unused objects is also at its highest . . . I create, recreate, assemble, and develop ideas with end-of-life materials and try to relate it to sustainability, ecological, and social awareness.”
Using damaged bumpers, burnt garbage cans, discarded tires, and broken appliances sourced from abandoned factories, landfill sites, and defunct construction areas, Bordalo II creates striking yet poignant urban sculptures that are built into the facades of buildings. He breathes new life and purpose into garbage, hoping that people around the world will follow suit and halt the plague of waste that is wrecking our planet.
“It’s part of the concept of my work, and my work in general, to use found trash from the streets, the fruits of excessive consumerism/capitalism,” Bordalo says.
While his works add beauty to the bleak walls of the city streets, the faces of the animals are a communication of their pleas for humans to stop destroying their habitats. According to Bordalo, the idea of Big Trash Animals is “to depict nature itself, in this case, animals, out of materials that are responsible for its destruction.”
Two of his trash animals—a giant monkey (on his studio’s facade) and a frog (Rua de Manutenção)—are in Beato, where the Attero exhibition was held. A giant fox, on the other hand, can be found all the way to Santos, embedded in an empty building on Avenida 24 de Julho. These are, however, the most recent additions. Among the other older animals in the series are a raccoon on a wall of the Centro Cultural de Belém, a puppy built a month later at the foot of the Cabo Ruivo roundabout, a pig on the Rua do Rio Douro, a bee inside the Lx Factory, and a damselfish in the bar of the Infamous.
Watch the videos below