A sculpture zooms in on the ocean’s plastic plight.
As an artist-in-residence on a Tara Oceans expedition to study plankton, Mara Haseltine saw firsthand how plastic was just as ubiquitous as those billions upon billions of tiny floating organisms that make up the bottom of the marine food chain. No matter how pristine the water sampled, the microscope always revealed plastic particles. Emily V. Driscoll’s short documentary, Invisible Ocean: Plankton & Plastic, follows the artist as she creates a sculpture that depicts the ailing health of these unseen species that help drive all life on earth.
Haseltine titled her sculpture La Bohème: A Portrait of Today’s Oceans in Peril, after Puccini’s opera, in which the poet Rodolfo falls in love with Mimi, who is dying of tuberculosis. In the artist’s rendition, tintinnid plankton plays the damsel in distress. “I want people to fall in love with Mimi—I want them to love the plankton and hate the plastic,” Haseltine says. “I’m looking for an emotional reaction, which leads to action.” So, there you have it—If you don’t want to clean up your act for little green blobs, do it for Mimi!