Maria Phillips returns to BAM for a solo exhibition following her award-winning work in BAM Biennial 2016: Metalmorphosis. The exhibition marks a new direction for Phillips’ practice. In contrast to her biennial work in metal, Hidden in Plain Sight presents work made from recycled materials, inspired by a five-month residency at Recology’s material recovery facility in Seattle.
Recycling has become a daily routine for many of us in modern Western societies, yet the origin and future of these materials is far more complex than we might realize. Once recycled, items begin a new journey, either as commodity material or waste destined for the landfill. Materials that can be given a new life are sorted, baled, and sold to the highest bidder.
What remains is contaminated material, or for a myriad of reasons, material unsuitable for processing—all of which will end up in the landfill.
As an Artist-in-Residence at Recology, Phillips intercepted items that would otherwise have gone to the landfill away from their inevitable future. The resulting works are reimagined and re-contextualized items whose next life draws our attention to their fate, sheer quantity, and initial purpose.
By focusing on single-use items and objects that have little or no repurposing value, Phillips questions their very necessity. These objects—paper cups, plastic liners, and a variety of packaging materials—surround us like a silent ticking bomb, quiet reminders of the excesses of consumer society and the urgent need for a global response to the ecological situation our societies face.