Every year, we produce around 300 million tons of plastic, some of which ends up in the oceans. Due to ocean currents, the plastic becomes concentrated in certain 'gyres', with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as the most infamous example. Far from being only a nuisance, the plastic causes significant damage to those who live in the ocean or rely on it for sustenance: birds and fish mistake the brightly coloured plastic as food and consume it, causing widespread illness and death.
Amsterdam-based photographer Katherine Oktober Matthews was inspired by the TED talk of 18-year-old Dutchman Boyan Slat, in which he proposed a solution to clean the ocean. In June 2014, after conducting a feasibility study, Slat gave a follow-up, and announced that his Delft-based organization The Ocean Cleanup started a crowdfunding campaign to enable them to officially kick-off the project. Matthews reached out to the organization to borrow some of the ocean plastics to produce a series of images.
The series Fruits de Mer was produced together with executive chef Aaron Tighe, of Circle of Misse. Together they created a menu of six well-known fish dishes, with the exception that the fish has been replaced with the oceanic plastic. Each is photographed from the perspective of the diner, with each meal designed to look as authentic and delicious as possible, were it not for the plastic. Matthews explains: "Our goal is to strike home the dire consequences of polluting plastics, through an aesthetic, slightly absurd, and beautifully disgusting way."
The Ocean Cleanup is running a crowdsourcing campaign until September 12, 2014.