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Art installation on the floor at Vasaparken, by Plastic Witness.
Art installation at Vasaparken, by Plastic Witness.
Photo: Jenny Högström Berntson
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Art installation of reused plastics at the Heritage Fair

Nina Romanus is the artist behind Plastic Witness, an art project for the environment that explores and makes plastic and plastic use visible. During this year's Heritage Fair, she uses the conference participants' and Vasaparken's garbage mixed with household plastics to make an art installation on the floor at Vasaparken, the main building at the University of Gothenburg.

Art as inspiration for sustainable habits

- With my art and installations, I want to inspire innovative use of materials. Also push for a change of idea of what garbage is and at the same time inspire to sustainable habits, says Nina Romanus.

Plastic Witness wants us to realize what we do and how we act today and inspire to a change of behavior. Plastic is both a good and a bad material. It all comes down to what we do with it.

In her work, Nina has also developed what she calls a Plastic Flora (Plastflora) - a species map.

- Yes, Plastfloran, Polymerogamer, simply grew out of our usual garbage at home, says Nina. It started with a flower wreath of plastic flowers and a terrible thought that what if all we have in the future is made out of plastic. I knew right away that my new flowers needed  names. It developed into descriptions. I grew up both picking flowers and learning species names and looking in flora to find the right one, it was a living tradition in the family. Linnaeus' watchful eye was present all along when I came up with new names for my flowers.

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Röd plastanemon (Lactofolium lactosprudler rubens)
Röd plastanemon (Lactofolium lactosprudler rubens) is one of the flowers in Plastfloran Polymerogamer. By Plastic Witness.
Photo: Nina Romanus

Garbage, recycling and cultural heritage

Within the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies and the research theme Waste / Wasted Heritage, we examine the connection between cultural heritage and waste in various forms. The research is multidisciplinary and captures a number of different interpretations and applications that cross research disciplines and areas.

- Nina's exhibition fits perfect to the conference theme, says Ola Wetterberg, Director of the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies. Within the theme Waste, we discuss what is considered valuable to preserve and what is dismissed as undesirable. We ask ourselves, among other things, how work with cultural heritage and conservation can contribute to recycling and better resource management and how we can contribute to the work for sustainable development.

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Tandskallra (Dentalis Transparantus)
Tandskallra (Dentalis Transparantus), one of the flowers in Plastfloran Polymerogamer. By Plastic Witness. Photo: Nina Romanus
Photo: Nina Romanus

Plastic flowers at the tabels

- We are very happy that Nina participates in this year's Heritage Fair with her art installations, says Anita Synnestvedt, conference organizer and coordinator for the Heritage Academy. We have a café section at the conference where Nina's plastic flowers adorn the tables and change a perhaps a little stiff and boring room into something completely different. If you have nothing to talk about when drinking coffee, this will definitely inspire conversation. We also think it is important to activate the participants at the conference in different ways, which Nina does with both the installation in the café and the ongoing installation in Vasaparken's entrance.

Nina's art connects important ingredients such as environmental issues, climate impact, sustainability concernes and not least art through this beautiful and inspiring installation on Vasaparken's floor.

- I am driven by a conviction that we must work in all ways we can with environmental and climate issues, says Nina Romanus. Science provides us with irrefutable facts. In large quantities. I want to make the same things visible while trying to understand what I can do to effect the situation in the right direction.

- The issues raised through Nina's installations such as sustainability, consumption, environment, etc. are something that we also address in this year's conference theme, which is "cultural heritage for the future". This really sheds light on the future and the cultural heritage of the future. Is it plastic that will be preserved and will we, like Nina, reflect on having only plastic flowers in the future? These beautiful installations are thought provoking and inspiring, says Anita Synnestvedt.

Heritage Fair

The Heritage Fair is a yearly conference/fair hosted by the Heritage Academy.

The Heritage Academy (Kulturarvsakademin) is a collaboration platform between the University of Gothenburg and the heritage sector, Västa Götalandsregionen.

The Heritage Academy is part of the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies, one of six centres within the UGOT Challenges.