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Plastic Heart: Surface All The Way Through

blue glove on pellet samples

Works by:

Christina Battle, Iain Baxter&, Sara Belontz, Leticia Bernaus, J Blackwell, Amy Brener, Hannah Claus, Sully Corth, Heather Davis and Kirsty Robertson, Aaronel deRoy Gruber, Fred Eversley, Naum Gabo, General Idea, Kelly Jazvac, Woomin Kim, Kiki Kogelnik, Les Levine, Mary Mattingly, Christopher Mendoza, Tegan Moore, Skye Morét, Meagan Musseau, Claes Oldenburg, Meghan Price, Terry O’Shea, Françoise Sullivan, Catherine Telford-Keogh, Lan Tuazon, Marianne Vierø, Joyce Wieland, Nico Willliams, Kelly Wood

Photo of waste such as cigarette butts being sorted by members of Synthetic Collective
Shirt made from purple silicon with objects pressed into it
Black and white photo of Eva Hesse in her studio holding up a plastic sheet

Plastic Heart: Surface All The Way Through

September 8–November 22, 2021

University of Toronto Art Centre

Organized by Synthetic Collective

Ahead of the promise of a nationwide ban on single-use plastics, this experimental exhibition examines plastic as art material, cultural object, geologic process, petrochemical product, and a synthetic substance fully entangled with the human body. The exhibition includes new commissions, historical and contemporary artworks that relate to plastic as a politically-loaded material and investigations into the paradoxes of plastic conservation in museum collections. It also features data visualizations of a study conducted by the Synthetic Collective that provides a first-ever snapshot of post-industrial microplastics pollution on the shores of all the Great Lakes. This exhibition links scientific and artistic methodologies to show how arts-based approaches to thinking and working can make viable contributions to environmental science and activism.

Plastic Heart mobilizes practices of institutional critique and proposes an alternative method of exhibition development and presentation that addresses ecology and sustainability in content and form. This exhibition seeks to stimulate viewers to be active subjects and works to challenge the artist’s complicity within capitalist-colonialist models of exhibition making and experiencing. By acknowledging plastics as both lubricants of artistic, gallery, and museum practices and also as ‘wicked problems,’ the exhibition undertakes an auto-critique as an essential component of its making.  

Virtual Spotlights

Looking Ahead to Plastic Heart: Surface All The Way Through

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge the operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council, with additional project support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.