Baruna Murthi: A Monumental Sculpture to Beat Plastic Pollution

June 5, 2018, Sanur, Bali – A monumental public sculpture that aims to shed light on the impact of plastic waste in our ocean and inspire Indonesians to take action to stem the tide of plastic pollution at the local and national level has been unveiled today in Sanur, Bali.

Baruna Murthi” is made entirely made of waste materials and inspired by the Balinese tradition of Ogoh-ogoh. The art piece was launched to mark World Environment Day 2018 and as part of UN Environment’s multi-city art installation all carrying the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution.”

Other installations are planned in Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Manila, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Yangon.

Artwork ranges from abstract to whimsical to cultural. In Hong Kong a giant 400-kilogram sphere of melted plastic will make landfall in Central, while in Auckland a bus-sized windsock created from plastic bags will hang at the city’s Eastern Viaduct. In Bangkok, visitors to Central World mall will be able to pass through 7 massive gates made from tens of thousands of plastic bags.

Based on current research an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean every year. Around 60% of this land based plastic waste comes from just five countries, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. While Indonesia is the second highest contributor, estimated to leak up to 1.29 million metric tons of plastic into the ocean, it is also the second biggest producer of fish and seafood products worldwide which can cause potential hazards not only to marine life but also to human health when fish and seafood contaminated with micro plastic is consumed by humans.

UN Environment (UNEP) in collaboration with the Coral Triangle Center (CTC) led the development of a monumental sculpture in collaboration with the Yayasan Pembangunan Sanur and the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Indonesia.

“We are working with all sectors to raise awareness about the impact of plastic pollution in the ocean and our marine life,” says Rili Djohani, CTC Executive Director. “We need deliberate action from all sectors and stakeholders to address plastic pollution as it is a local, national and global problem. We hope that Baruna Murthi’s story and significance will inspire more people to care for our oceans and reduce their consumption of single use plastic.”

The Sanur Community Youth Group (Karang Taruna Sanur Kajah), who has won various Ogoh-ogoh competitions in the past, is leading the creation of “Baruna Murthi” using common waste materials such as plastic bottles, detergent packaging, and plastic cups.

Drawing on Balinese culture and mythology, the sculpture is a depiction of “Baruna” – the Balinese God of the Sea who is furious because of all the trash and plastic pollution in the ocean. Due to his wrath, Baruna has transformed (Murthi) his face into a giant Lionfish (Ikan Barong) to send the message to humans to stop destroying the ocean that gives so much to those on land.

 Baruna Murthi’s artistic team is led by I Gede Wedhana and composed of I Wayan Hendra Pratama Putra, Ida Bagus Putra Mahavira, Komang Angga Wijaksana, Kadek Angga Satria Wibawa, I Kadek Sukmayasa, and Wayan Adi Wicaksana.

“I want to engage the people, whether they are locals or visitors, to not litter especially in beach and coastal area, to use less plastic material and be more mindful in taking care of the environment,” says Wedhana. Born in 1995, Wedhana grew up in Sanur and began his artistic pursuits when he was in high school. He learned to make ogoh-ogoh from his local community youth group and has since made 7 ogoh-ogoh sculptures in the last 10 years.

Baruna Murthi is Wedhana’s first attempt in making ogoh-ogoh completely out of waste materials. For this project, he and his team of young artists had to find, collect, and select suitable plastic waste materials to build the sculpture. They then carefully and patiently arranged the waste materals to highlight its significance without losing the aesthetic part of the sculpture.

By representing the sculpture in the form of Baruna Murthi, Wedhana hopes that it can be a reminder for the public that the ocean is not a big trash bin. He said that although Bali maybe small, it is part of a larger ecosystem and what happens here affects the ocean that connects us all. When we contaminate the sea, that means we also poison our own food resource.”

UN Environment is asking visitors to the installations to pledge on social media how they will help stop plastic waste. People can post a photo to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution to show how they are making a difference, and tag their friends to join the movement.

Prior to the unveiling of the sculpture, there was a community beach clean up in Segara Beach, Sanur on June 3, 2018 from 7am-8am, to welcome and prepare the area for the installation of Baruna Murthi. where the sculpture will be installed. The beach clean up involves schools and other Bali community members as well as media and other personalities.

After the public display, the sculpture was moved to CTC’s Center for Marine Conservation in Sanur, Bali where it will be a permanent exhibit open to the public, where it will serve as an educational tool for schools as well as for local and international visitors reminding them of their own plastic consumption and how to reduce plastic waste in their personal life. Following the transfer, there will be a Wayang Samudera puppet show from 6pm welcome to sculpture to its new home.