Artists are magicians in their own right for making something from nothing, for infusing the everyday mundane tools and objects with poetic meaning and creating a whole new experience from it. In the holiday season, with a good part of society taking part in excess shopping, people are becoming increasingly conscious of what we discard. Our relationship to the accumulation of stuff and the level of waste humans produce seems to be collectively shifting. The artists whose work is shared here: David Ellis, Vik Muniz, Gabriel Kuri, Song Dong, Tim Noble and Sue Webster demonstrate the way individual artistic voices arise from this consciousness and the beautiful and often magical work that is informed by our accumulated or discarded stuff.
Street art has become especially exciting and unpredictable over the last several years. However, the last place many would expect to find it is on the water. The New York based street artist SWOON designed three sea vessels built from salvaged material. The “flotilla” sailed from the coast of Slovenia to Venice, Italy. Though, definitely not the street SWOON effectively brings an urban aesthetic to sea. Photographer Tod Seelie was along for the ride to document the trip. The photographs and wild journey are as amazing as the vessels themselves. The raucous mash up of materials perfectly match the crew and set the atmosphere for what was certainly a wild ride.
There’s something at once lighthearted and sad about Benoit Paillé‘s photographs in the series Jour du Déménagement (translates from French as “Moving Day”). Discarded furniture, boxes, mattresses and other household items sit in piles waiting to be picked up by the garbage truck. The photographs are taken in the dark, seemingly in the middle of the night, and the trash lit by a single bulb. Little attention is paid to garbage on the curb; at night while everyone is sleeping it’s completely forgotten. Regardless, items we’ve lived with often for years quietly sit there all night. The scene is reminiscent of food in the refrigerator, and wondering what happens when the door closes and the light goes out.
The work of Chinese artist Wang Zhiyuan turns our attention to the overlooked and discarded. Whether he is using garbage to make art or making art look like garbage Zhiyuan’s art attempts to draw out a double take, a second slower look. Zhiyuan has also created giant pairs of underwear – some of huge swaths of fabric others carefully carved. Some seem like large and ancient bronze panties adorned with a relief addressing the AIDS pandemic. He’s also made use of refuse to create a dizzyingly high tower stretching to be nearly four stories tall. He says of the project:
“I thought it would be difficult to make these dead objects interesting or beautiful. But I discovered that if you bring order to them, you can create beauty.”[via]
Recycling is a way of life in Cateura, Paraguay. Many people there earn money by scouring the huge landfill for items that can be recycled. A certain garbage picker, though, began recycling for much more than money: for the young people in his community. Nicolás Gómez began creating instruments – violins, cellos, drums, guitars – from the trash he sifted through and gave them to local children. The idea picked up steam and children’s orchestra known as “The Recycled Orchestra” came to life. Landfill Harmonic, a documentary on Gómez and the orchestra, is slated to capture the inspirational story. [via]
The installations of Carly Fisher may at first appear to be trash strewn galleries. However, closer inspection reveals that none of the items are actual garbage. Rather, Fisher carefully recreates litter from little more than paper and glue. The meticulous attention she gives to sculpting trash replicas, so to say, may seem odd. However, the familiar international name brands dotting the gallery floor raise the question: do these corporations possibly give the same meticulous attention to the branding of litter as Fischer? As one of her gallery statements puts it, “Perhaps there is a marketing edge to trash?”
It was a long trek in rush hour traffic from Los Angeles to Highland, CA to see Garbage‘s final headline show of the year at the San Manuel Casino, but well worth it! I was lucky enough to catch their “rehearsal” back in early April at the Bootleg Theatre and I can tell you that even after touring most of the year (Shirley announced that this was their 100th show of the tour), they still have incredible energy and power and obviously love playing together.
They performed songs from their new record Not Your Kind Of People and of course many hits from their entire catalogue. During the opening of Stupid Girl, Shirley went down and did 20 perfect push-ups sharing with the crowd that she’s still in amazing shape after all these years. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would pay to see Gwen “Abs of Steel” Stefani and Shirley Manson in a push-up contest. Shirley went on to dedicate, #1 Crush to Bean from KROQ’s Kevin & Bean morning show stating how incredible and brave he was. Bean recently underwent kidney transplant surgery to help long time KROQ staffer Scott Mason, It was actually one of the most touching song dedications I have ever heard at a concert.
Garbage heads to New Zealand and Australia starting in February, 2013 so definitely check them out if you’re able to!
Japanese artist Mr. built an installation in the Lehmann MaupinGallery that is a gorgeous messy heap of cultural garbage/treasure. Using old anime posters, tarps, wood veneer cabinets, bouncy balls and the like, Mr’s installation overwhelms us with the incredible amounts of Stuff we as a society create; a physical version of contemporary internet culture’s constant sensory overload. His show is up for another three days, so if you’re in the NY area, catch it while you can! Press release:
“Mr. has envisioned a complex, chaotic installation that serves as immersive sculpture by forcing viewers to interact with the work and places them in a scenario that is psychologically unsettling. His new body of work aspires to blur the distinction between the interior and exterior through the construction of structures and atmospheres inhabited by familiar objects that are conversely used to communicate the unfamiliar: in this instance, an experience most people have not lived. Viewers are given insight to the psychological state of Japan all the while remaining alien to the experience. Composed of garbage and everyday objects from Japanese life, this installation stands as a reminder of the debris that blanketed Tohoku in the aftermath of March 11.”