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The Otherwise Good Person

July 4-3:00 am - July 7-8:00 pm

4 – 7 July 2022

Monday 3 – 8pm
Tuesday – Thursday 12 – 8pm

The Otherwise Good Person

By Susannah Pal

This isn’t an exhibition about how to make good choices for the environment. It’s about living in a society so deeply consumerist and reliant on plastic that there are no good choices.

As a child of the ’90s, I felt an insatiable desire for brightly coloured plastic tat. As my awareness of plastic pollution grew and I consciously made efforts to lower my consumption, my relationship with this material became intertwined with personal morality. The plastic fork I used at lunch could no longer be just a handy tool to eat with; whether I recycled it or not – or that I even used it in the first place – was now a measure of whether I was a ”good” or a ”bad’ person.

As a “good person,” it’s always tempting to judge the behaviour of others who aren’t making the same “good choices” that you think you are. The images in this exhibition are inspired by my own life; the women are caricatures of me, and many of the items you see in the pictures are things I have owned and used. In turning that sanctimonious judgement on myself, I explore what it means to be “a good person” and question the value of framing the challenges of plastic pollution as a moral issue. 

For five months I collaborated with Professor Ian Williams and The Waste Management Research Group at the University of Southampton, learning from the scientists about how plastic degrades into microplastics and then into nanoplastics. This non-biodegradable matter gets everywhere; in the water, in our food, in the air, and even into our blood.

The work here illustrates how we can’t just recycle our way out of the climate crisis; that attempts to consume ethically in one respect can create or exacerbate other issues elsewhere in the ecosystem. In these images, I confront the reality of microplastics and discover that, by my own standards, I am not a good person… and perhaps I never can be.

Do you consider yourself a “good person”?

Do we make environmentally conscious choices “to be a good person,” or because a particular action really will help? 

If we thought more about what would actually make a difference, what would we be doing differently?



Instagram @susannahpalartist


July 4-3:00 am
July 7-8:00 pm
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