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08 December 2019 —
15 March 2020

Karen Rubado:
under intense scrutiny

Karen Rubado, under intense scrutiny, 2019. Soft plastic weave. Commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland. Photo by Sam Hartnett.
Karen Rubado, under intense scrutiny, 2019 (detail), Soft plastic weave. Commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland. Photo by Sam Hartnett.


For Te Tuhi’s Project Wall, Karen Rubado has created the new work under intense scrutiny.

From December 2018 to May 2019, soft plastic recycling halted in Aotearoa New Zealand. China stopped accepting refuse from New Zealand, and the alternative Melbourne-based recycling centre received more plastic than they could process.

Single-use packaging solutions, like soft plastics, have become ubiquitous in our lives. Originally introduced as a way of increasing consumption, disposable plastic has become emblematic of a system broken in the name of progress. With many industries slow to change their reliance on plastic packaging, the responsibility to reverse this culture of hyper-disposability has fallen to the consumer and the government. 

To create under intense scrutiny, Rubado collected soft plastics used over a month by six families. The material was then hand-shredded and assembled through hand-weaving techniques to form a long plastic textile.

In re-presenting these ‘disposable’ plastics, Rubado invites scrutiny of manufacturers and their processes and highlights the importance of consumers connecting with and understanding the materials they purchase.


→ Karen Rubado – EyeContact

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