Plastic more than anything else is a symbol of irresponsible consumption, ignoring both the ecological and health-related repercussions. Namibian artist Fillipus Sheehama explores this modern-day practice of mass waste with his tapestry made of plastic strips of trash and rivets named “Fabric of Moral” from 2015.
Fillipus Sheehama is considered a young rebel in the Namibian art scene. Determined, well trained, socially and politically engaged. He has no qualms about condemning abuse and inequality. By upcycling plastic waste from Europe that landed in Namibian landfills, he critiques the type of consumerism that promotes this throwaway mentality all over the world. The traditional African weaving technique used by the mixed-media artist here hints at the local textile industry but can also be interpreted as a reference to global interconnections. Namibia is well known for its captivating landscapes and breathtaking wildlife across an expanse that is 2.3 times larger than Germany. Although this young nation in southwest Africa was the first country in the world to incorporate environmental protection and conservation into its constitution after its independence in 1990, the country still grapples with problems related to too much waste, as highlighted by Sheehama.
MAYA AND THE PLASTIC SQUARES
“This figure has so many tiles! And it looks really big, the artist weaved tons of plastic strips together: green, white, and a few red ones. He must have had packages left over, cut them into thin and wide strips, and then weaved them tightly together. Are those pasta packages? You can’t really tell. Either way, it’s good for the environment if he makes something beautiful out of plastic trash. Weaving is easy if you know how to do it and if you practice. I braided my hair once. But I’m sure this piece of art was more challenging. The rows are so close together, and it needs to be perfect in the end. The dark area in the middle looks like a turtle. I see a rock on stilts on the bottom left. You can find a lot in the figure.”