After having heard about Mirlo through all the news bulletins that we sent out last year, ziREjA turned up on our doorstep one fine morning. By chatting to her, we found out all about the passion and commitment she brings to her artistic endeavours, her sensitivity towards the environment, and just how keen she is, as we all are, to live our lives while leaving a positive footprint. ziREjA gave an interview to our colleagues in Tendencias21, and they have given us permission to publish it in our blog. So as we’d really like you to know more about her outlook on life, we hope you will enjoy reading it!
Irene Sanfiel Arriaga, an artist from the Canary Islands who goes by the artistic name ziREjA, has been a dedicated photographer for the past ten years. Last December one of her photographs reflecting the impact of waste on the coasts of the Canary Islands won the European Environment Agency’s “Waste smART Competition”. The artist became interested in the Mirlo Project because one of her objectives in this life is to make society aware of the need to look after the environment and to undertake initiatives to repair the damage that has been done.
T21: What has art got to do with waste? The one would appear to be poles apart from the other…
Z: I have never studied art. I just express myself through art. As far as I am concerned, waste is something that forms part of my everyday life. I just use my eyes and, because of how I see life, waste is the protagonist of a line of work that has to do with both art and communication.
T21: Last December the European Environment Agency (AEMA) awarded you a prize in its “Waste smART Competition”. The objective of this competition is to show how young creators see waste. The prize was for an artistic photograph that you took on the Fuerteventura coastline. What were you trying to express with that image?
Z: In this particular instance, what I was trying to put across, as is the case in many of my images, is how human’s enter into contact with effects that whether consciously or unconsciously, they have brought upon themselves and on the environment. Looking at the big picture, I’m interested in talking about the effects mass consumerism has on the environment and, in particular, about the waste that the tides wash up on our coasts, and about the connection between this waste and the individual who lives by the sea.
T21: You lived in Ghana in 2011, what is the situation regarding waste management in that country?
Z: They don’t have waste management such as there is here. As far as I am aware, they do have a waste collection service in some parts of the capital, but in general, there is lots of uncontrolled dumping. They also have a major problem with the waste that reaches them from other countries.
T21: After that trip, you returned to the Canaries in 2012. Did you notice much of a difference?
Z: Living in Ghana was an enriching experience in every way. Most of the differences that I was aware of had to do with my perception of the world, and my way of feeling things.
T21: Is there any specific artistic movement that is dedicated to demonstrating the effect of the waste we generate on the planet, and on people?
Z: Many people ask me about this, and even though I’m working on this issue, up to now I’ve not been able to do enough research into the work that other people are doing in this field, so I can’t really talk about an “artistic movement” as such. I have heard about “povera” art, land art, and other artistic disciplines that express themselves by focusing on our resources and forms of expression that derive from using of certain ephemeral materials. I do know that various collectives are working on showing the effects of waste… but I don’t know if there is an actual movement as such.
T21: We have discovered that you are going to work in some way or other with the people in Mirlo. Their company is all about recovering the environment in different parts of Spain by promoting projects funded through crowdfunding. Can you tell us how you are going to collaborate with Mirlo?
Z: While I think that the mere fact of presenting an artistic proposal is important, I also think that it is important to do things to help make people aware of the effects of this major problem, and to motivate them so that we can really begin to mitigate those effects.
That is why I believe it’s important to collaborate and work with different collectives that are involved in promoting respect for the environment. And also to generate propositions in which members of the public can become the protagonist and can actually design their own environment, and that’s what Mirlo is all about.
Our intention is to develop awareness campaigns and creative actions that are in line with the goals of this project.
T21: If there were more forests, what effect would they have on the planet?
Z: More oxygen to get our creative neurons firing off more ideas on how to turn the planet into a better world…
T21: Are you planning any future artistic work related to reforestation or other elements that condition —negatively or positively — the environment?
Z: Definitely. One of the areas I want to work on is directly related to the environment. With the countryside that is all around me, and the effects that humans have on it, both positive and negative. Reforestation is something positive that we can give to the planet to soothe its heart after so much plastic, fire and cement.
Find out more about ziREjA here:
Web and blog: www.zireja.com
Ghana project: www.insidethemoskitonet.com