The Poetry of Plastic

Plastic is everywhere, and if you live in Marrakesh, you are constantly reminded of that fact.  I don’t in fact think that Moroccans consume more plastic than elsewhere, but for some reason our trash is just more visible to us, it’s not all neatly hidden in landfills.

For me, plastic is just another thing on my list of things to feel guilty about.  I always forget to take my shopping bags with me so I end up lugging things home in micas.  On the rare occasion I refuse a plastic bag, the shopkeeper will get this amused look on his face .  This unconventional foreigner is going to walk home with her loaves of bread all exposed to the elements and to people’s curious eyes.  What a rebel.  At home we have a special cupboard whose sole purpose is to house all the plastic bags we bring home.

So when I stumbled on an art show under the theme of MICA (plastic in Arabic) I was intrigued.  I was walking in Casablanca, which is a highly unpleasant and yet energizing experience.  I happened to walk by a place called Villa des Arts and dropped in to see what it was all about.  Why am I bothering to blog about it?  Well for one, I don’t get out to many art shows, so I found this inspirational in its pure playfulness and freedom of imagination.  Granted I prefer classical beauty to this type of art show, it’s nonetheless creative and funky.  This post fulfills the artsy cultural quota for this otherwise straight talking, plain Jane blog.

If you are an artist and you ever run out of inspiration, don’t panic!  Grab the nearest thing to you: a flip-flop, some pencil shavings or a plastic bottle cap.  Now multiply times a million.  Voila!  Instant art show!








If plastic could talk…it would be singing this ditty:

See above for instructions for instant art show.   The commonplace item reproduced here for shock and awe effect is none other than tofita, the world’s cheapest candy (1 dirham  or 10 cents will get you 10 of these).   Don’t quite know how this relates to plastic, and I think I don’t want to know. 

As hard as I try to appreciate the random beauty of this, and not apply my bias against trash, I just can’t.  Can you?


I do appreciate that someone took a fresh look at trash bags washed up on the beach, I really do.  It’s still gross.  I’ve walked on these beaches. My kids swim in this.  



Something else to discover:


Then again, maybe it’s all a matter of gaining the right perspective:


Feel free to share your own feelings on plastic, trash, art shows, art shows made of plastic trash, beaches, or gaining perspective, in the comments!


12 thoughts on “The Poetry of Plastic

  1. aniccarose says:

    Nora. You might enjoy my friend Erin Currier’s art. It is political and provocative and she makes it out of trash. She travels all over the world collecting trash on her travels and then makes paintings and portraits based on it. It’s pretty cool stuff. Here is the web addy

    Beautiful photos too btw!

    • Shauna(Amal in Morocco) says:

      Nora, I know what you mean about so many plastic bags…. I do enjoy the colored ones though…. we have used them to make kites and other art projects. I also will refuse a plastic bag if i only have a few things(my purse is usually big enough anyway) the men at the hanuts just laugh as i stuff things in my purse….. i try and use my limited Arabic vocab and say “Mica bezaff dar dyali) …..not sure if that is the right way to say it but i think they understand me.. Before we moved here 3 years ago we were living in Seattle and we had to sort out all our trash or we would be charged a fine, It became second nature to me and i still separate my trash and wash out all my cans, bottles, etc….so if recycling every catches on here i will be ready…….

      • Shauna, I’m sure the guys who go through the trash appreciate your efforts. There is recycling here, just not in the same way you might be used to it, lol. I have so much respect for those guys who go through all are trash and salvage anything that is reusable.

  2. andrea says:

    i was just looking at the photos from the plastic art and was intrigued as to what the white plastic moulds were used for?

  3. Umm Abdoullah says:

    Salam alaykoum, dear Nora,
    this is so true! We have been living in Marrakesh for only one month now and even though I brought shopping bags, we continue to hoard up micas in all coulours and sizes.

    I recently came across the works of an german artist, who works with trash. He travels around the world with his famous “Trash People”, who should symbolize the comsumerist age we are living in.

  4. Br00ke says:

    I’ve been thinking of making a few pieces (of art!) based on some of the trash we regularly see here and it probably won’t ever get past conceptualizing. The trash is overwhelming and artists are able to see beauty in the ordinary and even ugly, but the problem is when we do shows like this, it becomes a sort of mockery. I mean, why bother? Most of the people who got to galleries are already totally familiar with formal recycling, which even with the massive reuse here, actual recycling is still needed to get rid of the stuff that is beyond reuse–and so then the viewers aren’t really able to DO anything with the infos they are taking in, you know? Art doesn’t need to be educational, per se, but with an issue like this what else are you trying to do? No one is going to buy an installation of bottle cups for their living room floor. There is a slow-growing movement to green Morocco, I’ll send you the fb link 😉

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