The Projective Eye Gallery at UNC Charlotte Center City presents Sustain Me Baby, March 25-June 26. Combining the work of two artists in different media, Sustain Me Baby examines the danger of plastics we cannot recycle.
Joyce Dallal’s “The Other Toy Story” is a 10-foot tall trash-receptacle “baby” that is “fed” during the opening reception and throughout the exhibition with plastic toys. While the giant baby, which can hold several hundred pounds of toys, evokes a sense of play, it also illustrates through scale that the waste we leave behind today will be a massive problem for the next generation. A video by John Flynn, “Feed the Baby,” will screen continuously in the gallery, chronicling the first installation of Dallal’s work in 2011 in a school in Los Angeles.
Surrounding this centerpiece installation will be powerful images from Chris Jordan’s Midway series. The Midway Atoll lies in the northern Pacific Ocean, more than 2,000 miles from the coasts of Asia and North America. Jordan visited the islands some three years ago to photograph dead baby albatrosses, whose stomachs bear the remains of plastics fed to them by their parents, who mistake the trash for food. “Choked to death on our waste,” writes Jordan, “the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.”
Sustain Me Baby is part of KEEPING WATCH, a three-year initiative designed to foster collaboration across disciplines and interest groups to engage the public in matters of local sustainable issues. Developed by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute in partnership with the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, KEEPING WATCH connects community partners and projects to raise awareness and inspire action around three local environmental issues: plastic waste and recycling (KEEPING WATCH on PLASTICS, 2014), water quality and urban streams (KEEPING WATCH on CREEKS, 2015), and air quality and the value of trees (KEEPING WATCH on AIR, 2016). For information, please visit www.keepingwatch.org.
The opening reception for Sustain Me Baby on Friday, March 28, included conversations with the artists and a live performance of original choreography by Mark Diamond, performed by members of the North Carolina Dance Theatre second company (NCDT2). Commissioned by the Projective Eye Gallery, designer Erica Diamond has created the dance costumes from recycled products. The public was asked to bring an old toy to “feed the baby.”
In addition, three miniature “baby” receptacles will collect plastic toys in alternate locations: One receptacle will be installed at Discovery Place; one will travel to various locations on the UNC Charlotte campus; and one will travel to various locations throughout the city of Charlotte.