Man Made Waste or Re Del Mare

Textile art piece by Miranda

This piece was made using found textiles and objects, found at the harbour at the Port of Pozzallo (where many immigrants/refugees were held when large numbers were being rescued into Sicily from the sea) and on the beach at Sampieri (the site of a tragedy when 13 migrants travelling on a small ship from Libya drowned only meters from the shore in 2013). There is no way of knowing the origins of these items – from fishing boats, tourists, or perhaps from boats carrying those desperate to reach our shores. Their anonymity speaks of our commonality, and the great levelling of death and mortality, but also of the anonymity of those whose bodies have been found and buried here.

I was inspired at first by the holes in the fast-disintegrating T shirt fabric, which reminded me of bleached egg cases or coral from the sea. The fabric ‘floats’ on the background, like a jellyfish, or like any piece of man made waste slowly disintegrating and sinking into the seas. Man made waste like floating plastic, clothing and objects are littering our seas – but we also make people into waste, throw them out like rubbish, and care as little for their fate in the sea as we care about that of a plastic bottle or discarded piece of clothing.

The piece represent a kind of sea-crucifixion, hence the alternative title – ‘Re Del Mare’, King of the Sea – reminiscent of Pilate’s mocking title given to Jesus, ‘King of the Jews’, and scrawled on a piece of driftwood. The red plastic and blue twine found on the beach made me think of the blood and water that flowed from Christ’s side when it was pierced. We reject and mock those who threaten our way of life and our comfortable certainties, and our society would rather remove them from our sight. Our governments actively prefer to let them die, to sink unnoticed beneath the waves, rather than take seriously the challenge they present to our foreign policy and sense of European identity.