“Every language has its own grammar, its own specific nature, but it also has a structure disposed towards communication and relation.” – Vecchi, 2010

Indestructible, flexible and inventively adaptive, the languages of plastic are paradoxical in nature. The grammars of Ecuador’s plastic-woven ‘saquillo’ bag allow it to lace seamlessly into the fibers of earth, air and water – holding together river banks and settling into the intestines of small creatures. These bags, now made in local factories, have replaced the ones wreathed by Andean women using organic grasses such as cabuya or carrizo. 

If listened to, plastic communicates stories of toxic dependencies that cannot be thrown away. The film, ‘Plastic Childhoods: The languages of plastic’, narrates the intimacies of these dependencies as lived in an inquiry with young children in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Inspired by Pinar Yoldas’ art exhibition (2015), Ecosystems of Excess, the problems and ideas generating this inquiry are centered around the question: If life evolved from a plastic debris-filled forest, what might emerge? Thinking with material and conceptual tensions, metaphors and hesitations in our encounters with plastics, this film gestures toward “inconvenient and disconcerting cohabitations” (Taylor, 2016, p. 1457) with plastics, children and the inventive creatures that are grown in what the educators have named, ‘the plastic vivarium’.

We are grateful to the children, educators and families at Nivel Inicial for their participation in this film.

Film: Alex Berry / Audio: Samanta Izquierdo / Editing Support: Juan Marcelo Lituma Morales