Pandemic waste turns to be beautiful artifice through this Argentine artist

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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Argentine artist Marcelo Toledo at his workshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentine artist Marcelo Toledo usually creates sculptures and jewelry out of metal. Now he is working with new materials such as waste masks and syringes from the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to create an exhibition exploring the gruesome effects of the situation.

Mr. Toledo, who has designed jewelry for Broadway’s “Evita” and one-of-a-kind pieces for Barack Obama and Madonna, was one of the first persons in Argentina to contract COVID-19 a year ago and was hospitalized for eight days with pneumonia. The experience left an indelible mark on his life and sparked a whirlwind of artworks.

Marcelo Toledo
Argentine artist working on an art piece depicting a model of the coronavirus

Mr. Toledo is collecting discarded coronavirus waste from hospitals, labs, and random citizens for his latest show, the “Museum of the After”. It includes old vaccines and medical bits, as well as pandemic-related newspaper clippings.

Marcelo Toledo
Marcelo Toledo
Argentine Artist

“I am excited to be able to transform pain into beauty and this exhibition is just that, capturing everything that is happening to us as a society. It is the first time that I do an exhibition in which I do not have to buy any of the elements. It will all be enclosed or put in capsules because we should never forget this. So the idea is that everything can be preserved over time. The exhibition will tell the story of this ship that went sailing and was stranded after the storm, which is a great metaphor for what is happening to us. This pandemic, it’s a great global storm.”

The artworks, which will be on display in a public space in downtown Buenos Aires beginning in September, will all be made from “disposable materials or garbage that people send” to Mr. Toledo, many of them sealed inside vacuum-packed bags.

As per the reports, “In the exhibition, there will be a real ship that symbolically crosses a “storm” and recycling islands to raise awareness about the importance of caring for the environment.”

Pandemic Waste
Checking and sorting of pandemic wastes

The artist hopes to recreate the latest exhibition in other cities around the world, just as he did with the ‘giant mask’, which was replicated in countries such as the United States and Japan.

“The idea of this ‘Museum of the After’ is, on one hand, to look for elements from all over the world, and also to be able to replicate it in other places and even get a physical museum to leave the work for posterity,” Mr. Toledo added.

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