wilson oryema is using art to get us talking about saving the planet

A new multimedia exhibition entitled Wait highlights the importance of looking after the environment following Britain's exit from the EU.

by Bojana Kozarevic
02 June 2017, 10:38pm

On the eve of Wilson Oryema's first solo exhibition at Doomed Gallery in Dalston, and three days before World Environment Day, the model and artist gives i-D an exclusive insight into his work -- primarily sculpture and photography -- that explores the potential perils Brexit has in store for the earth. Something made even more worrying with the news that Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. "I'm worried about what happens when we're no longer required to adhere to the EU's recycling targets," says Wilson."What happens when we're not held accountable?" 

So wait and listen up!

The exhibition is called Wait, why?
Wait is the first in a series of projects I'll be working on over the next few years looking at human consumption. This exhibition will focus on our collective relationship with trash and recycling. There'll be a zine sometime in July.

The full length title of this exhibition was going to be something along the lines of Wait, is this the direction we should be moving forward in? It was initially a question to myself and the viewer about whether or not it's ok to continue consuming at the rate we do. We're depleting resources at an alarming rate, and not enough effort is being made to repurpose or recycle the items we're throwing away. I can't see this behaviour being sustained without some kind of massive backlash from the earth in the near future.

What are your fears post-Brexit?
I think the EU's approach to recycling works because of the shared responsibility, as well as it being legally binding, of course. Once we leave the EU can we honestly say we can expect to uphold those standards and targets? With the direction we're heading in, with the current government making massive cuts to public services, we face an even steeper uphill battle to making our society an environmentally friendly one.

Do you think it's good to have fear?
Yes, because it helps me to better realise what I care about, and in turn learn more about myself.

What motivates you to create art?
Wanting to share an experience I've had and what I've learnt from it. Hopefully that's of interest to other people. I want to do things that are challenging and rewarding; Wait is very stripped down, for example. With the work I create, I usually try to make very surreal imagery, however, this time around I felt it'd be counterintuitive to the intentions I have with the work.

Is this the first time you have felt spurred by a political event to make art?
Yes. It came at a time when I finally realised that you can't just take and take from society. You have to give back.

How did the exhibition come about?
I had been taking photos of trash just out of interest for some time. From there it began to really stick out to me how much we really consume. How much we throw away. How little is recycled. Then with leaving the EU, and also wanting to present my art publicly, I felt it was finally time to do something.

Do you have a favourite piece from the exhibition?
It's all very important to me, I'm very excited about the "chairs" made of plastic bottles and how they come together.

Are these themes you always come back to?
A lot of the themes I've covered in the past, and will cover in the coming months/year, in some way deal with human psychology, behaviours and habits. So, I feel that will always be present in my work in some way. I want to make art that connects and encourages conversation.

Read: 10 things you should know about Wilson Oryema.

Wilson Oryema's Wait is on at Doomed Gallery, 65 Ridley Rd, London E8 2NP from 3 - 4 June. 


Text Bojana Kozarevic 
Photography Wilson Oryema

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