Plastic Ocean



Plastic Ocean combines sculpture with photography and examines our changing relationship with plastics and the increasing and overwhelming presence they have in our lives. The images show a clash between worlds, offering minimal and aesthetically pleasing compositions which, on closer inspection, in-still a sense of ecological grief.  Plastic Ocean questions consumption, idolatry and what it is we value in our lives today. The effect is a quirky, playful and pop art paradox. At a first glance, the debris do not disgust us. On the contrary. Their dainty look almost seems to gloss over the ugliness of all the plastic pollution on our beaches. But only for an instant. Our initial attraction, soon fades. Plastic Ocean provides a kind of  Vanitas for the 21st century. Traditional icons of mortality, ephemerality and wealth have been traded out for bottles, baskets and bowls: single-use items which are used and discarded, now only existing as empty vessels of destruction.
Our beaches are covered in plastic confetti and there really is nothing to celebrate.

Thirza Schaap graduated from the Royal Academy of Art The Hague in 1996.  Since then she has been working as a photographer and is now exploring new art forms through her Plastic Ocean project.  She has been living and working both in Amsterdam and in Cape Town,  South Africa since 2013.  After first posting her Plastic Ocean images on Instagram she was published by i-D vice in the summer of 2017,  followed by Lidewij Edelkoorts’s Trend Tablet,  L’Officiel,  Elle,  Vogue,  Aperture and many others. Her collection was included in the Finders Keepers exhibition at the Het Nieuwe Instituut,  the design museum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. May 2019 during design week in Salone, Italy she was acknowledged by Instagram as one of four artist who present themselves successfully through social media. In March 2018 she gave a lecture, workshop to go along with her exhibition at Fabrica Research Centre in Venice Italy.  Plastic Ocean first solo exhibition opened June 2018 in Amsterdam at Christie’s in collaboration with Colette Olof’s OWonder.
Her sculptures were first exhibited in 2019 in Maastricht, The Netherlands and later that year in Cape Town in collaboration with Greenpeace Africa. In 2021 she published her first book, Plastic Ocean and joined Bildhalle gallery Zürich+Amsterdam. That summer she had her first solo exhibition in gallery Bildhalle Amsterdam and received an inspiration award from Hedy D’Ancona and the Humanistic association in Amsterdam. Aswell Unseen art fair in Amsterdam in September and publications in Süddeutsche Zeitung Germany, Harpers NY,  Sunday Times SA, The Guardian, Vogue and all leading dutch newspapers.

Copyright © Thirza Schaap, all rights reserved

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