Art Activist Liina Klauss’ Sculpture From 5,000 Salvaged Flip-Flops

From ocean plastic waste to a large-scale installation at Bali's Potato Head Beach Club

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Even in the idyllic dreamscape of Bali, marine pollution—and ocean plastics—strangle and destroy natural beauty. To draw continued attention to this plight, Bali’s Potato Head Beach Club called upon German-born artist and activist Liina Klauss to build a permanent outdoor installation with the goal to maintain awareness. Enlisting a team, Klauss collected more than 5,000 flip-flops from the shores of Bali’s west coast. Sorted, bound and formed, the plastic pieces have come together for an artwork unlike any other, and it’s on display now.

“A few years back when working in Hong Kong, I noticed the excessive amount of flip-flops on non-gazetted beaches and I decided to use them as my sole art material,” Klauss explains. “Firstly, the amount mirrors our over-production and over-consumption. Secondly, they are worn directly on the body and people identify with them more strongly than, for example, with a water bottle. It’s important to me that people make a direct connection between marine pollution and their own daily lives. After all, it is not ‘them,’ it is every single one of us causing the global plastic pollution,” she adds.

The process for her installation began with six beach clean-ups. The pollution helped her to “understand that this is a global problem and that my art-awareness-activism is needed here as much as anywhere else. I started to inspire children from Bali Greenschool and we reused ‘lost soles’ for different art works in class. With OIOV, I motivated volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to help collect more flip-flops and again use them as a medium for land-art. Last but not least, Potato Head Bali supported by collecting 3000 soles to make exhibit total over 5000.”

It’s Klauss’ first permanent installation and thus her process changed some. “To make the flip-flops into a permanent structure meant to join them together,” she notes. “What would be the best sustainable material to do that? We found a 100% recycled thread from bottle caps made by Innovation Hub at Bali Greenschool. The structure underneath the carpet of sandals is made from locally sourced, sustainably grown and harvested bamboo here in Bali.” For that, she partnered with ibuku. The artwork itself took weeks to build, but its impact will hopefully be long-lasting.

Images courtesy of Potato Head Bali