The desolate image of environmental havoc above is real—no CGI, no Photoshop, no illusions. It's a simple mixture of art direction and the scourge of human waste.
In 2013, Spanish artist Pejac transcribed this exact scene, a tire graveyard surrounding an orange life ring, from his imagination onto paper in a watercolor painting called Heavy Sea. Now he follows up on the project with a nearly identical photographic reproduction captured during a recent visit to one of these massive tire dumps, IRL. "It was a poetic nightmare made real," Pejac tells The Creators Project. "Being surrounded by hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of tires was overwhelming and disturbing at the same time. More than a dump, it felt like being in an endless graveyard."
Pejac is known for clever paintings and street art that place a familiar object in a new setting, or vice versa, like visual puns. Moving the Heavy Sea concept into photography felt like something different. "Having the opportunity of making real a fictional idea has been quite a strong experience. It’s been exciting while also quite dramatic," he says. Though Pejac leaves the location of the photoshoot undisclosed, there are similar scenes all over the world, from Tire Mountain in Colorado, to the world's largest tire dump in Kuwait. "The more time I spent there the more evident became the relation failure between humankind and the earth," he says.
Alone, images of the tire graveyards are riveting photojournalism, and frequently gain attention all over the internet. With the simple addition of the orange life preserver, Pejac adds a subtle feeling of drowning that resonates with the environmental movement. The earth is drowning in garbage. Humanity is drowning in its own rising populations. Rising sea levels and raging weather see coastal communities drowning quite literally. "I’ve always been sensitive to environmental activism; it’s something that strongly influences my work," Pejac says. With the Heavy Sea photography series, he doesn't want to preach or look down on anybody. He simply hopes they slow down and assimilate the imagery. "The possibility to address through my art my concern on how we daily mistreat Earth is a way of dealing with the problem in an honest manner. It's not a way to lighten my share of the blame," he says. "Self-criticism at individual level is key."
See Pejac's own walk through the tire graveyard in the behind-the-scenes images and video below.
See more of Pejac's work on his website.