Entry Motivation: 

Performance art has often been the medium of choice for artists addressing societal or environmental issues. It is impactful and eye-catching and because of this it leaves a lasting impression on the viewer and can propagate positive social change in protecting our oceans.

My name is Luke Rudman, I am a performance artist from Port Elizabeth and Visual Arts student at Nelson Mandela University. I began exploring performance art in 2017. Much of my work focusses on both the beauty of our natural world and the way humankind has exploited our environment and oceans.

This year has been deeply inspiring and eye-opening to me in the way it has revealed how much of an impact art can have on society and how art can initiate social change for the protection of our environment and oceans.

Between April and August this year I created 12 ‘plastic monsters’ from plastic pollution I collected from the Nelson Mandela Bay coastline. Each one of these ‘plastic monsters’ visually and conceptually represented a different element of the plastic pollution crisis. Some of the monsters represented ocean pollution, land pollution, microplastics, single-use plastics and the effect that consumerism has on our environment and oceans to name a few.

The 12 ‘plastic monsters’ were brought to life in a large-scale performance art piece that took place on the 28th of August 2019 on the busiest NMU campus, at the busiest time of day, so as to ensure the largest audience. The 12 monsters moved through the crowds, raising awareness about plastic pollution and the dire state of our oceans as they walked. Some of the models in this performance included Prof. Andrea Hurst, who is the SARCHI CHAIR of identities and social cohesion in Africa, Alexie Kalenga, the head of the African Youth Waste Network and Joshua Rudman, the Chairperson of Amnesty International.

Further input and guidance came from the SARCHI chair as part of NMU’s ongoing research project entitled The Tributaries Project where I participated in research seminars focusing on water and the Ocean. I will also be exhibiting this work on the 18th of November 2019 at the Bird St Gallery, PE.

The performance was hugely impactful and effective. The performance and message were carried to much wider audiences through the media. Greenpeace Africa asked me to ‘take-over’ their Instagram page for 10 days where I was able publish the photos from the performance. The performance made the cover of the local newspapers the next day and was covered by the SABC and ENCA evening news and SABC3’s Afternoon express show (viewable on YouTube).

The ‘plastic monsters’ have been performed regularly since the first performance. Greenpeace Africa brought me and my work to Cape town where I did 3 large-scale performance pieces against pollution with their “protect-the-oceans” campaign. I also performed these art-pieces at the National Arts Festival, AFDA film festivals and various other public spaces in an effort to continue advocating against plastic pollution and for the protection of our oceans.