Plastic spoons in the ground. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014
Sometimes, the scale of an issue or problem can be so great that numbers become a bit meaningless.
I can visualise 500 grams of butter, or a 80kg person, but for a trip of 300km I’d probably have to draw a circle on a map to see where I might end up. And when I try to visualise 83,000 children going to school hungry, it becomes even more difficult. My son’s primary school had about 500 kids, so that’s 166 schools’ worth. But how many schools are there in Auckland? In New Zealand?
Auckland artist Donna Turtle Sarten works with large numbers. Her installation Strange Fruit (which I wrote about in Defining Nationhood) consisted of 3890 military dog tags — one for each of the New Zealanders who served in the Vietnam War. Her latest work, Feed the Kids, sees 83,000 plastic spoons dug into the ground on the roadside at Te Atatu Peninsula. Each spoon represents a child in New Zealand who goes to school hungry according to a government report.
A different perspective; 83,000 spoons line the roadside in Donna Turtle Sarten’s installation Feed the Kids; Harbourview Sculpture Trail, Te Atatu, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie 2014
Feed the Kids was created as part of the Harbourview Sculpture Trail 2014, on Auckland’s Te Atatu Peninsula (8-30 March 2014). The artist has said that although we see and hear poverty statistics quoted often, the numbers are so large that it’s difficult to actually make sense of them. Seeing 83,000 plastic spoons disappearing into the distance creates meaning — it puts the problem of child poverty in New Zealand into perspective.
This post was written for the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. You can find out more about that here. And here are some more posts on perspective that I’ve enjoyed: