Tangle is a floating installation that conveys the quiet yet critical role of plants in accumulating plastic from our waterways. The plants behave similarly to filters; the small plastic fragments cling to their strands as they float at the top of the water, facilitating their removal from the lake.

A view of Tangle in the Peter Street Basin © Jack McCombe

Tangle conveys how we are all inextricably linked. Plants, people, plastic.


In the summer of 2022, artist-in-residence, Emily Chudnovsky, gathered invasive macrophytes and micro- and macroplastics during our Fighting Floatables field season, collected from Seabins deployed in Lake Ontario by PortsToronto and manual skimming supported by the Waterfront BIA.

Each summer, our student researchers empty trash traps and skim the water’s surface along the Harbourfront (including within the Peter Street Basin) to collect data that is used to increase waste literacy locally, and inform solutions to prevent plastic pollution.

The organic matter, the macrophytes, willow and pine resin, are the backbone of the piece, the framework to view the synthetic material. Much of the synthetic materials used in Tangle come from industrial waste: sawdust from the lumber industry, discarded polypropylene bags from the textile industry, and microplastic pellets from plastic manufacturers which fall out in transport and can end up in LittaTraps (a trash trap installed in storm drains) and Seabins (a floating trash trap).


Willow Branches
Microplastic Composite (Pine Resin, Recovered Microplastic Fragments, Invasive Macrophytes eg. Eurasian Milfoil and Canadian Waterweed, Sawdust)
Polypropylene Bags

About the Artist

Emily Chudnovsky’s artistic practice consists of collecting organic remnants and synthetic decay in order to draw out new iterations, connections and regenerations through sculpture-based installations. Her carefully considered use of discarded materials in her immediate environment calls into question our human-made demarcations of nature and waste. She is currently living and making work in Toronto, Canada.

For more information, contact Emily or visit her website.

Tangle was made possible with support from the Canada Council for the Arts in collaboration with PortsToronto, and with thanks to the Waterfront BIA and City of Toronto water department.