Art should not be ”likeable”, it is mainly for expressing emotions. It has to be indiscreet, it is for asking questions and offering new perspectives. It is meant to bring a change in our souls, to bring them closer into a complete connection. If all that I said above is true, then I think there is someone who completely encompasses all these ideas. Her name is Marina DeBris, an Australian based artist and she is transforming the garbage of others or plastic objects into real works of art, from the dresses ( the Trashion concept, the term is referring to the fashion clothes that no one wants to wear, which are made from trash), to impressive sculptures. It has been included in the top 30 most influential contemporary women artists in the world, at the moment. Currently, she lives in Australia. She is an activist who aspires to make people aware of the effects and consequences of environmental pollution through her work. Her art is a manifest against the collective carelessness, against the oceans that are polluted, against the animals that are suffocating themselves in the sea of plastic, against all that is wrong in the world.
The heart of the ocean is actually stabbed by all the “souvenirs” left behind. Turtles with deformed shell because of the plastic circles or a seahorse that keeps an ear stick tight are the sad image, we have to confront globally. An object thrown by us on land can also get to “travel” in the waters. Every year, eight million tons of plastic material arrive in the ocean, and in 2025 annual output is expected to be almost doubled according to a report on pollution. More about Marina and her mission, you can discover from the interview bellow.
Why did you choose using a Pseudonym instead of your real name? What’s the story behind?
Marina: I had been working as a graphic designer for many years before I became an artist (though you could say a graphic designer is an artist). I wanted to differentiate between the work I was creating for commercial use (ie graphic design) and the work that was driven purely by cause.Because I like to use humour, the name came up as a play on words. Originally, I came up with “Deb Ris”, then “Marina Deb Ris”, and finally the one that stuck, “Marina DeBris”.(the term “marine debris” comes from English and translates to man-made waste that has been discharged into coastal or marine areas).
What is the message that you want to deliver to the public? What are you fighting for?
Marina: Mostly, I want the public to react to the shear amount of waste we create in our daily life and simple ways to change that. Obviously using less single-use plastic is a given, but also reusing as much as we can. That goes for water, clothing, furniture, food, electronics etc. Another thing I am passionate about is how we treat other species that share the earth with.
This is where my art began, when I realised the harm our waste was causing to marine life. I have since become a Vegan as I feel strongly about not having any animal suffer for my consumption especially when there are so many alternatives.
Until now, which are some people that help you throughout your journey? How did they support you?
Marina: My dad loved the ocean and my mom loved art so I guess it was the combination of those things that formed my perception. They also brought me up to not waste anything and were also novice bird watchers. On occasion they were activists for human justice issues. They have since passed away but I think of their influence often. My two brothers, niece & nephews have also lent support in many ways. My partner is an artist and often helps in coming up with names, giving constructive feedback or technical support.
How does it feel wearing a dress designed by Marina DeBris or watching an exhibition with her piece of art?
Marina: You are unlikely to find me wearing my own pieces (a bit too loud for me!). I get a tremendous thrill seeing my outfits come to life on a model, either in a “trashion show” or for a photo shoot.
Which is the greatest sin of the mankind with regard to pollution?
Marina: Generally speaking, fossil fuel is the single biggest issue regarding pollution. That comes from the extraction, burning and using petroleum to create single-use plastic items. Pollution from intensive farming, fabric production with the use of herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals are of course up there too. We really need to rethink our entire lifestyle model and go from a linear model to a circular one because we have the technology and the skills to do it.
I’ve found your name included in top 30 most influential contemporary woman artists, next to Carolina Herrera, famous designer in the fashion world. What do you think about this?
Marina: I saw that! Honestly, I don’t feel worthy of that title but of course I am flattered to be among such notables! Now I just need to live up to such a title!
One reason for you to go to sleep happy and fulfilled every night is:
Marina: That I do something for the greater good and try to use my skills for something other than myself.
Photo credit: The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Photo by Dino Ferries of Turtle