May 20 - November 26, 2023

Everlasting Plastics

US Pavilion Biennale Architettura 2023

Xavi L. Aguirre, Simon Anton, Ang Li, Norman Teague, Lauren Yeager

Curated by Tizziana Baldenebro, Lauren Leving

Part of Group Exhibition

Everlasting Plastics

Perfected in the United States in the early 1900s, petrochemical polymers known as plastics were embraced as a revolutionary material that protected the natural world and decreased socioeconomic barriers to accessing goods previously only available to the wealthy. Today, despite cultural attitudes towards disposability and evidence of toxicity, plastics are produced at alarmingly exponential rates making clear the urgency to reframe our approach to the overabundance of plastic detritus in our waterways, landfills, and streets.

Everlasting Plastics explores the cultural ubiquity of these materials and the ways in which our reliance has shaped a fraught, yet enmeshed, kinship. This group exhibition brings together five artists and designers whose practices focus on examining, salvaging, and upending a global calamity. This project includes site-specific works by Xavi Aguirre (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Assistant Professor of Architecture); Simon Anton (Detroit-based designer); Ang Li (Northeastern University School of Architecture, Assistant Professor); Norman Teague (University of Illinois at Chicago Assistant, Professor in the School of Design); and Lauren Yeager (Cleveland-based sculptor). Each work considers our relationship with plastics, encouraging discussion about the ways the material both shapes and erodes contemporary ecologies, economies, and the built environment, while also suggesting potential alternatives and necessary re-imaginings for the ways in which plastics are deployed.

Rather than making a value judgment about plastic, Everlasting Plastics acknowledges that our toxic interdependency with the material is now a global phenomenon, while also understanding its possibilities as an agent of change. Everlasting Plastics invites an architectural perspective to highlight our unseen dependency on plastics; demonstrates the ways in which plasticity has created expectations for the behaviors of other materials; and points to plastic’s unknown, long-term, and indelible impact on our futures.

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About the Artists

Xavi L. Aguirre

Xavi Laida Aguirre (b. 1984; based in Cambridge, MA; they/them) is an architectural designer, founder, and director of the architectural design practice stock-a-studio and Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They develop material tactics and assemble architectures that reconsider our relationship to material circulation and aesthetics... go to artist page

Simon Anton

Simon Anton (b. 1988, based Detroit, MI; he/him) is a multi-disciplinary artist, designer, and educator that collaborates across the fields of architecture, interior design, furniture, art, and jewelry. He is the co-founder of Thing Thing, a design collective that experiments in the transformation of post-consumer, hand-recycled polyethylene plastic sourced from... go to artist page

Ang Li

Ang Li (b. 1986, based in Boston, MA; she/her) is an architect and Assistant Professor at Northeastern University. She is the founder of Ang Li Projects, an interdisciplinary design practice that works at the intersection of architecture, experimental preservation, and circular design practices to examine the maintenance rituals and material... go to artist page

Norman Teague

Norman Teague (b. 1968, based in Chicago, IL; he/him) is a designer and Assistant Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Illinois Chicago. His work focuses on the systematic complexity of urbanism and the culture of communities. Teague works with common, locally sourced building materials and collaborates with local... go to artist page

Lauren Yeager

Lauren Yeager (b. 1987, based in Cleveland, OH; she/her) is a conceptual artist and sculptor. Yaeger re-imagines commonplace objects as sculptural components. Using salvaged consumer materials, she references modern and classical forms through sculptures that recover and elevate the value of these reclaimed objects. Largely unaltered, their domestic origins remain... go to artist page

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