Known for his extensive work in capturing the complex personality of ocean waves, it comes as no surprise that Italian-Portuguese photographer Alessandro Puccinelli has dedicated his recent series to ocean conservation and protection.
Besides being an intimidating yet awe-inspiring force that spreads over 71% of the Earth’s surface, all of life on Earth is dependent on it; the ocean’s health affects the air we breathe (it scrubs out greenhouse gases and provides 50% of Earth’s oxygen), the water we drink, the food we eat, and the creatures we love (50% of the species on Earth). It makes sense that we try and take care of it.
Considering that the ocean is such a powerful resource to life as we know it, Puccinelli chose a very unusual perspective to portray the litter that pollutes the seas. Instead of a menace to the ocean, he framed the discarded, exhausted commodities as rugged heros, battered and worn from the tribulations of the powerful pounding sea.
Throughout the winter season Puccinelli collected the washed up garbage that the storms had brought in that lined the Portuguese coast. Bizarrely, he positioned them in portraits as expended soldiers of consumerism – their substance mined from the Earth, transformed into a disposable commodity, thrown out and forgotten, battered from war with the elements, and finally washed up – blemished, but still alive.
Puccinelli chose this peculiar angle because he wanted to emphasize that “I’m not against plastic, I understand very well how important it has been and will be in the future,” Puccinelli explained to GARAKAMI. “I just want to make people aware that we are using too much of it and [ignoring the repercussions].” He hopes that the alternative way of framing the garbage will provide a new way to focus attention on the importance of ocean conservation.
Puccinelli’s photo series isn’t just an urgent reminder to us to recycle – it is to make us conscious that the materials we have produced are still floating around. He warns us that “they will not disappear by themselves until we decide to take care of our beaches and oceans.” His photos illustrate the strength of the products we create and their unforeseen endurance. Just because we throw them ‘away’ doesn’t mean they cease to exist – that ‘away’ is in a landfill, an ocean, or hopefully a recycling plant. But in reality that ‘away’ is always going to be invading or encroaching on someone or some organism’s home.
Through his photo series “I Travelled the Seven Seas and I’m still Alive,” Puccinelli uses garbage to tell a story. I just hope that now, more people are listening.