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From necessity to debris: The pollution of face coverings during COVID-19 

Discarded Mask #082. 2021

Discarded mask #082, 2021

In 2020 it was estimated that every month 129 billion face masks are used globally. The majority of which contain disposable plastic microfibres.

The photographic exhibition Undercover: from Necessity to Debris, The Pollution of Face Coverings During COVID-19, documents 365 of these discarded face coverings found and photographed in the streets during the last year. It acts as both an archive of highly disposable material culture and as a reflection on the environmental impact of our response to COVID-19. 

Strewn across rain-sodden pavements and gutters, at first glance, these masks may seem unremarkable, indistinguishable, unworthy of attention. While it is true that a face mask, even if only worn across the mouth, serves to conceal the wearer's identity, a closer look at these objects reveals clues to the lives of their previous owners.

Despite the absence of their former owners, each mask is haunted by the ghost of its previous wearer. As a consequence, these photographs serve as a form of absentee portraiture.  


During the course of the exhibition, 52 NFT items from Undercover from Necessity to Debris will be given away for free on OpenSea.

View the NFT exhibition OpenSea

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