Chris Jordan‘s ‘Midway: Message from the Gyre’ photo series is disturbing, revolting and sickening. The images were taken on Midway Atoll – famous for an air battle between the Japanese and Americans during WWII – where albatross chicks are continually being killed by their own mothers who mistake rubbish floating in the ocean for food and feed it to their young. It happens to tens of thousands of birds every year.
The series is a document. Nothing is changed, altered or moved. It is simply a statement about over consumption, the waste we create and the slow inevitable death of our planet. What is extraordinary about the images is the amount of plastic and other detritus the birds were able to consume before dying. Quite incredible when you think about it. This project, which has been ongoing since 2009, is typical of Jordan’s work. He has spent years recording the damaging consequences of American mass consumption of which we are equally at fault.
Here’s what he said about the project:
On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.
For me, kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.
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