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Photo Credit: Tavis Rogerson
(excl. external images of the VOCO Hotel)

John Dahlsen: Artist VOCO Commission Statement 2022

This commissioned work for the foyer of the Melbourne VOCO Hotel is made from found micro-plastics collected from Australia’s coastline and ecologically sustainable plant-based resin, ink, on a sustainable timber backing. Thematically based on environmental issues, taking society’s discarded everyday objects, and transforming them into formal compositions. These materials have been returned by the ocean and used to convey the history and memory of a place with a positive aesthetic.

The cotton sheet providing the base element covering the ply used in the artwork is supplied by VOCO and is part of a 100% Better Cotton Initiative, made from 100% recycled materials, which contributes to sustainable cotton harvesting. There are an estimated 150 plastic bottles recycled per VOCO guest room through the bedding alone. In a statement from the Commissioning company it elaborates: “VOCO is further showing its commitment to its step by step philosophy by partnering with Environmental artist John Dahlsen to create VOCO’s first eco conscious artwork to be displayed in the lobby of VOCO Melbourne”.

The work transforms rubbish into objects of value, raising questions about the assignation of cultural worth. They also compel the viewer to make links between everyday objects, and art. This work actively mobilizes the unstable boundaries between what is human-made and what is natural. There has been a longstanding engagement and exploration of the coastal landscape with this creativity, examining the passage of time in the landscape and the place of humankind within it.
Exhibiting this art is a way of sharing messages with a broad audience. Even if just a fraction of the viewing audience were to experience a shift in their awareness and consciousness about the environment and art, then it’s worth it. Humanity is at a critical point in time, with our planet currently existing in a fragile ecological state, with global warming hastening unheard-of changes, all amplifying the fact that we need all the help we can get.

This work shares a positive message about beauty and the aesthetic experience and offers examples of detritus re-cycle and re-use. It encourages those who experience it to look at the environment in creative ways. People have expressed to me an awareness that manifests after seeing this found object artwork, that when they walk the beach, they feel awakened by creative possibilities. The final alchemy of the work is entrusted to the viewer where they may experience perceptual shifts and have a positive aesthetic experience. The work will potentially act as a constant reminder to “walk gently on the planet”.

John Dahlsen.