“Plastic” Art: The Work of Maika'i Tubbs

By Fiona McDonald (University College London) 

Maika'i Tubbs, "A Life of Its Own," 2010, plastic forks, spoons, knives
Maika’i Tubbs, “A Life of Its Own,” 2010, plastic forks, spoons, knives

During the 2013 Sakàhan: International Indigenous Art quinquennial exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, the complexity of the materiality of many works was explored through a series of interviews with artists who were on site at the gallery to install their works. While many intricate threads are interwoven throughout the Sakàhan curatorial project, the main focus stems from the ambition to create an exhibition that explores, on an international level, what it means to be indigenous today.
Prior to the closing of the exhibition on 2 September 2013, The National Gallery published a short interview with Hawaiian artist Maika’i Tubbs presenting the scope of his multi-media plastic art installation. In his piece, Life of its Own (2010), Tubbs repurposes plastic forks, knives, spoons, and plates to create an evocative site-specific installation that invites viewers to reflect upon the aesthetic transformation of materials—specifically, a material Tubbs calls an “invasive species” and situates as comparable to intrusive plants such as the morning glory flower. Tubbs’s work with plastic mobilizes the conversation around the aesthetic manipulation of objects to provoke further consideration about the politics of consumption on islands with limited waste disposal management.
Watch the interview here:


Leave a Reply