Selen Botto: Tainted Mediterranean Memories

Selen Botto’s ‘Do You Sea?’ project reflects on the danger of plastic waste pollution on the coastlines of Europe.

After being displayed in various exhibitions across Europe, Selen Botto’s ‘Do You Sea?’ project, which first began in 2020, is now being released as a photobook in collaboration with graphic designers Adrián Beltrán and Mati Martí, with an accompanying text from Jorge Alamar. The work offers a commentary on the relationship between humanity and our surroundings, laying bare the consequences of over consumption.

The process behind Botto’s images began with long walks along the beaches of the Mediterranean coastline; on her walks, Botto took various photographs of the picturesque scenery whilst also collecting as many plastics and microplastics as she could find. Back in the studio, she superimposed the collected waste onto her photos in a way which dramatically altered their tone. Seemingly idyllic images become corrupted by swathes of garbage, forcing one to reflect upon the damning reality of our impact on the planet. Whilst the message of collection is bleak, it’s delivery has a comic quality which renders the project a ‘tragicomedy’ in the words of the artist.

With an Italo-Turkish heritage, Botto’s studying of the discipline of photography began in her native Turin and took her to various places across Spain. She is now settled in Valencia, where the collection of photos was first exhibited; since then, the set have been displayed at Milan’s Italia90 in Condominio, Tenerife’s Fotonoviembre 2021 and several other group exhibitions.

Following the success of the project’s exhibition tour, the ‘Do You Sea?’ photobook presents the photoset in tandem with excerpts detailing the statistical reality of plastic’s impact on the Mediterranean coastline. As well as this, the book closes with a whimsical anecdote from Jorge Alamar about a beach trip with his mother, in which he struggles to palate the mismanagement of waste, both figuratively and literally.

The publication of the ‘Do You Sea?‘ book has been funded by a Verkami campaign, which remains open until July 3rd.

Text: Harvey Byworth-Morgan