I’m so honored and delighted to share a short essay I wrote for Edge Effects called “The Pleasures of Teaching Plastic.” It theorizes plastic identities, environments, bodies, aesthetics, and materials (like styrofoam, silicone, and glitter), and reflects upon my Plastic! Surface, Substance, Selfie seminar at UW-Madison. The essay features a few images of my students’ fabulous final projects, and you can see more student work here. I’m so grateful to Laura Perry for her brilliant editing and Addie Hopes for her editorial support, and to my endlessly brilliant and inspiring students.
Here’s an excerpt of the essay: “Throughout the semester, it became increasingly clear that plastic is materially and symbolically inextricable from contemporary American artistic and cultural production. The more my students and I looked for plastic—in grocery stores, clothing, music videos, national parks, poetic language, and social media—the more we found it. We acknowledged our difficult position as critics of plastic in an unavoidably plastic world, our clothes made of polyester, our laptops made with acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, our classroom tables made with polyurethane. And we suspended judgement while gently embracing our affective attachments to the plastic objects that populate our personal landscapes.”
The gorgeous featured image is Kate Durbin’s brilliant performance project Hello Selfie Miami, which perfectly crystallizes the feminist, queer, and environmental threads of plasticity. The essay features another image of Durbin’s work as well as Sky Heyn Cubacub’s amazing Rebirth Garments project and Evelyn Reilly’s essential Hegel/Styrofoam collage. I also mention a sparkling array of artists and theorists including Catherine Malabou, Kirsty Robertson, Jane Bennett, Nicole Seymour, Mel Chen, Heather Davis, Jeffrey Meikle, Lynn Keller, Paul Preciado, Allison Cobb, Rashaad Newsome, Cassils, Martine Gutierrez, Juliana Huxtable, Curious, FKA twigs, Erica Lord, Nicki Minaj, Plastik Magazine, and Yes Femmes.