Visual Statement

The Choking Point

“For several years, I worked outdoors whenever I traveled, making arrangements and collages out of plants. I was interested in what most people consider weeds. One winter day, I went looking for plants on a beach but found only trash. This inspired me to create art with dried-out waste, which I collect myself—over months or even years—in order to tell the story of how humans are destroying the oceans.

Here, old bottles, tubs, cups, and plates represent hollow promises washed up on the world’s shores. They also signify a looming ecological threat. This sort of packaging remains in the environment for years; toxic plastic containers almost become part of the biomass. I have tried to create an anxiety-provoking image by using perspective as a tool to crowd everything to the choking point. This expresses what it feels like to walk among pieces of trash on what was once a beautiful beach.”

Barry Rosenthal is a photographer and sculptor based in New York.

Want unlimited access? Subscribe today.