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Humans invented plastic. We depend on it. Now, we are suffocated by it. Once labelled a miracle material, plastic has made modern life possible while environmental responsibility impossible. More than 40% of it is used just once, and less than a fifth gets recycled globally.

Single-use plastic is choking the planet on an epidemic scale. Even if we try to avoid it, plastic is entangled in every product we consume. Some think they are going plastic-free when in fact, in most cases they are not. For example: did you know that aluminum cans are lined in plastic to protect the metal from being corroded by the liquid inside? Did you know that paper cups are lined with plastic in order to not dissolve the paper used to carry liquids? A trip to the supermarket with a reusable carrier bag is great, yet the majority of products on the shelves are wrapped in plastic. While they are bought and carried in a non-plastic bag, humans are still bringing single use plastic waste into their homes that will be discarded within seconds of opening.

We have identified the problem. We know the solutions. We know how to pick it up. We know how to dispose of it. We know how to recycle it. The question is: do we need to be in this constant cycle of recycling? Or can we in reality attain a plastic-free life?

The curation of the exhibition is seeking to highlight different sides;

  • Life suffocated by plastic: Showing the amount consumed, yet not really consumed but rather instantly discarded. If we venture to the other extreme, how does our future look like if we continue with this plastic obsession? Is the prophecy of suffocation just a scare-tactic or actuality?
  • Seeking the perhaps imaginary utopia of living without single-use plastic: To raise questions about the lives we lead and the societies we have built around its usage. To seek and imagine alternatives scenarios for tomorrow. Can we imagine a zero-single use plastic reality? What would the UAE look like without its plastic dependency? Is this purely an imaginary scenario or can we become wholly sustainable?

Tashkeel invites UAE-based artists and designers to submit works that examine the imagined and actual, the environmental, social, economic, cultural dimensions of the plastics issue as well as aspects such as conditioning, social behavior and human psychology that have led to the wasteland engulfing us.

We encourage both artworks and design pieces to be submitted in a range of mediums that will drive discussions around single-use plastic, and to explore alternative solutions to it.

This open call will be accompanied by a programme of talks, tours and workshops before and during the exhibition, which will be held at Tashkeel (Nad Al Sheba) during March.


  • Submission deadline: Saturday 1 February, 10pm
  • Shortlisted notified by: Thursday 6 February
  • Delivery: Saturday, 8 – 13 February
  • Exhibition opening: Tuesday 3 March, 7pm