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Chris Jordan - Midway Island series

His art advisors told him that the world wasn’t in want of photographs of dead birds, but that’s not what the world is telling Chris Jordan, writes Jessie Borrelle.

At first it’s quite beautiful, and then the tiny assortment of feather, beak and bottle caps arranges itself into a portrait of an albatross, guts taxidermied with plastic, and fascination is soon replaced with confusion and sorrow.

For Jordan this grief is an invocation of love, a transformational experience. “My sadness for what’s happened to the albatross is a doorway into my sadness for everything that’s happening to our world.”

The Seattle-based photographer and recovering lawyer talks like an evangelist, looks like an artist, thinks like a behavioural psychologist and is often called an activist

"We forget the miracle we’re all part of, but if we can just remember that, then all of a sudden saving the oceans and stopping the pollution would be easy and fun." It was art that lead Jordan into environment movement and not the other way around.

One of his earliest photographic works, a portrait of a garbage pile in an industrial Seattle neighbourhood, unintentionally sparked conversations about the politics and ethics of material consumption amongst his friends. Striking this chord shifted Jordan’s artistic compass. He has become well-known for his inventive documentation of the fallout of our soft drink slurping civilisation.

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