Waste Matters

The international artist Gayle Chong Kwan, introduced by the art gallery Alberta Pane, is the winner of the Sustainable Art Prize 2019, which was organized by Sustainable Ca’ Foscari in collaboration with ArtVerona. Gayle developed at Ca’ Foscari the project "Waste Matters" which has explored the food waste theme, our relationship with food, the city, our bodies, and the life of waste, through research, online workshops, activities in Venice. Gayle Chong Kwan has worked with the Ca’ Foscari community of students and academics, to explore waste not simply as ‘matter out of place’ (Douglas) but rather as inextricably enmeshed ‘throbbing, living, vibrant matter’ (Bennett). The project photographed, mapped, and collected food waste, drawing on the traditions of the herbarium, and paper production. The art project was connected to the 12th Goal of the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations for the Sustainable Development dedicated to "Responsible consumption and production" that aims to reflect on the value of food waste, while stimulating a debate on the importance of reducing waste in order to lessen our impact on the environment.


On Friday 2 July the video launching the artwork "Waste Archipelago" was broadcast on the youcafoscari channel and on the main University channels.


Antonio Marcomini – Vice-Rector
Elena Semenzin - Delegate to Sustainability
Diego Mantoan – scientific responsible of the Sustainable Art Prize
Gayle Chong Kwan - artist
Alberta Pane - gallerist
Francesca Weber - student
Alessandra Signorini - student
Cristina Cavinato - researcher in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics

"Waste Matters"

The artwork "Waste Matters" by artist Gayle Chong Kwan, was inaugurated on Friday 2 July 2021 with an online launch video. 

The artwork consisted of two banners, located on the façade of Palazzo Foscari on the Grand Canal,which were the result of reflections made during the Waste Matters project that the artist ran, and developed with students and academics. 


A landscape made of food that we usually find on our tables, symbol of abundance and quality, is set against its reflection, the darker reality of food waste that is generated by intensive farming, production methods, and growing out of season. It is combined with oil, which is used in the global transportation of food, and the cause of major environmental devastation in the oil spill disasters that occur in our oceans. 

At the end of the exhibition, the material of the banners was recovered so that it would not become waste but a useful resource for the production of new objects. Thanks to the work of the Rio Terà dei Pensieri - Malefatte Social Cooperative, 50 cases were produced.

The publication of the project, realised by Edizioni Ca' Foscari, has been published. A report with images and reflections on the issue of food waste, with the contribution of Ca' Foscari students.

Performance "Waste Archipelago"

At the end of the project, the artist realized a performance in the streets of Venice with some students: a procession between some of the university buildings and the Alberta Pane Gallery, where the students wore hats made by the artist using photographic collages made up of  images linked to the topic of food waste. The hats are now on display at the Alberta Pane Gallery in Gayle Chong Kwan's solo exhibition "Waste Archipelago" whose works were created thanks to the reflections that emerged during the meetings with our students.

Gayle Chong Kwan

The london artist Gayle Chong Kwan, introduced by the art gallery Alberta Pane, is the winner of the Sustainable Art Prize 2019

Gayle Chong Kwan has convinced the jury for her solid and visionary poetics that is fully in line with the objectives of the award promoted by Ca’ Foscari. In particular, she impressed the jury because the thematics she deals with in her projects - such as the reuse of food waste and their artistic translation– match with the discussion around the fragile balance that characterizes our contemporary realities. For Gayle Chong Kwan, waste is never an end in itself or decontextualized, but a vibrant and vital question that has its roots in the modus vivendi of our society.

Born in 1974 in Edinburgh, UK. Lives and works in London, UK. Gayle Chong Kwan is a London-based artist, whose large-scale photographic installation, sound, participatory, and video work is exhibited nationally and internationally, both in major galleries and in the public space.

Her work is an ongoing investigation into simulacra and the sublime, which she explores through constructed immersive environments and mise en scenes, created in states of resolution and dissolution between imagined futures, alternative presents, and fictional mechanisms. The personal and global politics of food and tourism is a major focus of Gayle Chong Kwan's practice. Her work is often specific to a context and she explores histories, memory and senses. The artist's pieces take the viewer on a journey across countries and civilizations, exploring the relationship between food and culture, and underlying the importance of waste in giving measure to our lives. Playing with scale and merging the real and the constructed, she has often created large and multi-layered installations, exploring the built environment, strata and waste, as wells as many mythical landscape, created through arrangements foods.

A selection of Gayle Chong Kwan’s recent exhibition includes: Dream Tapestry, a communal tapestry of dreams created during the Covid-19 emergency in partnership with the London Borough of Waltham Forest (2020), Kew-Pamplemousse, online solo show, Alberta Pane Gallery (Paris/Venice) and Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?, online group show, Alberta Pane Gallery (Paris/Venice) in 2020; Capturing Motion, photography residency, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2019), STORMY WEATHER, site-specific installation at Museum Arnhem, Netherlands (2019), Wastescape: Weaving Landscapes of Politics, Dairy, and Waste at Auckland Arts Festival in New Zealand (2019); Quarantine Archipelago, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong (2019); Experiential Ecology, The Edge at Bath University, UK (2019); Preserved, commissioned by Nuit Blanche for the City of Toronto (2018); The People's Forest, William Morris Gallery, London (2018) and Barbican Centre in London (2017); Microclimate commissioned by Invisible Dust (2018) and Anthropo-scene at Bloomberg Space, London (2015). The artist is also developing Waste Matters, a sustainable project in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University, in Venice, as the winner of the Sustainable Art Prize 2019. Moreover, she won the International Artist Award from the British Council, she took part in the Asia-Pacific Biennial in Berlin, in the 54° Biennale di Venezia and in the 10° Havana Biennial.

Currently studying for a PhD at the Royal College of Art, in London, in her research the artist explores The Poetics and Ethics of Imaginal Travel, through field trips and conversations and collaborations with environmentalists, historians, archivists, philosophers and scientists.

Last update: 08/05/2024