Poor theory and the art of plastic pollution in Nigeria: relational aesthetics, human ecology, and “good housekeeping”

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The art of plastic pollution from Nigeria marks more than an environmental consciousness. It also marks an ecological consciousness based on contemporary plastic-waste artists’ commitment to advocating the recovery of traditions of repurposing materials and of skilled craft work. These contemporary artists are proposing that Nigeria negotiate its own modern identity by recuperating creative traditions of object making that combine the values of utility and of artistry in the practice of craft. The emphasis on plastic specifically as an artistic medium highlights the clash of what eco-artist Bright Eke calls a “bottled life”–entrapped, wasteful, unhealthy, ego-centric–with a traditional ethos of interconnectedness and eco-consciousness. Drawing together data from personal interviews, filmed documentaries, and museum talks, this essay argues that the current generation of artists is using salvaged plastic as a primary medium to rethink Nigerian ecology in terms of “good housekeeping”–a specifically Nigerian oikos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-220
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Dynamics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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