"A Yellow Land" Case Study

Overview:

A Yellow Land” is Maedeh Mosaverzadeh’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) thesis and digital art series hosted on their website and Instagram. The series explores our relationship with singe use plastic and waste on campus within the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, the inspiration for A Yellow Land was the significant amount of pollution that is in our oceans. Themes of marines life are present in the work and reflect statements made early into the pandemic from French non-profit, Opération Mer Propre, of which a representative stated, “soon we’ll run the risk of having more masks than jellyfish in the Mediterranean” (The Guardian March 2020). This statement expands upon concerns of plastic in the ocean that existed before the pandemic. For example, rough estimates from a 2016 report presented at the World Economic Forum claimed that there would be more total plastic weight in the oceans than total fish weight by 2050. Similarly, a 2016 report to inform the second UN environmental assembly and focused on impacts to that marine environment highlighted that, “microplastics have been documented in a diversity of habitats and in over 100 species.”

Just as statements with waste in the oceans have transformed to reflect our current environment within a pandemic, Maedeh adapted their project to represent our present time and experiences. ‘Nowness’ is an important concept in Maedeh’s work and is not only centred on pandemic waste as the subject matter of the series but also in the colour yellow. For Maedeh, yellow is a colour that represents our current moment. It’s an attention-grabbing colour that brings out hope and joy, but also undertones of danger. Through the subject matter, ‘nowness’, and colour pallet, Maedeh, references the hope and risk within Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble, which describes that we need to stay within the moment of living and dying together on our damaged earth for new solutions and ways of being to develop into more livable futures.

Outcome:

By utilizing social media to host A Yellow Land, Maedeh, promotes a greater reach and access to their message than traditional art galleries. Originally from Iran, Maedeh, hopes to be able to reach a broader audience when discussing global issues of pandemic waste. Both Canada and Iran do not want waste to be at the forefront of civil discourse however, they hope that through this project people around the world will become more conscious of the waste they consume and discard. Maedeh offers a final word of advice, they believe that when it comes to social action, individual action matters. We have seen in this pandemic the public health impact that choosing to use a mask can offer. These choices parallel the impacts of our everyday consumption decisions, whether it is single-use PPE or single-use plastics and packaging, our individual choices have significant impacts on the health of the environment.

Next Steps:

Maedeh plans to continue to focus on environmental sustainability for their future works after graduation in summer 2021. Check out their website and Instagram to stay up-to-date with new releases.

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