Modernity and Waste, September 2007, Philoctetes Center, New York
Roundtable discussion featuring Jennifer Gabrys, William Kupinse, Robin Nagle, Elizabeth Royte, and Susan Strasser.
Here are my notes from this talk via youtube:
Susan Strasser talks about the relationship between waste and creative process: The central point of her book Waste and Want is that of hand work to machine work. Hand work involves a knowledge of what to do with waste and skills for fixing and the saving of materials for fixing and making have been lost. Bricolage is considered something artists do, not what everybody does, and the role of the artist involves a different relationship to the material world.
A poignant phrase comes up: Waste of time. There is a critical relationship between time and consumerism and waste.
Robin Nagle takes about Mongo collection and reuse as a creative process.
Elizabeth Royte talks about artists working with recyclable materials and
her impatience with the the belief that such practices are doing the earth some good in their negligible magnitudes.
Nagle talks about long term artist in residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation Mierle Laderman Ukeles and her first major project: Touch Sanitation project. http://www.brokencitylab.org/notes/touch-sanitation-maintenance-art-the-work-of-mierle-laderman-ukeles/
Strasser talks about Picasso and Braque as some of the first celebrated fine artists making collages from rubbish and historically contextualises it as during “that same transitional period, when it used to be something everybody did. You used found objects all the time. So during that transition, when people were not doing that so much, then it became elevated to something that artists did.”
William Kupinese talks about his research into around the same time on James Joyce’s Ulysses, a book that tries to represent the detritus of contemporary, or then-contemporary, consciousness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_%28novel%29
Kupinese asks is there a risk of aestheticising “garbage art”?
Nagle on our use of language: “I’ve always been curious about how we have decided that our garbage is repellent to us, and continue to create it in such massive quantities with such speed and persistence. I mean, the lovely English construction—we “throw,” which is very emphatic, “away,” which is very vague, our trash.”
Nagle on Michael Thompson’s Rubbish Theory: “He puts forth the idea that value is in fact on a continuum. He puts it in a triangle of how things move from being valued to being rubbish to being in a transitional stage in between being worthless and being valuable.”
Royte on Don DeLillo’s novel Underworld: “He [the protagonist] is a waste technician; he looks at everything before he buys it and imagines what kind of waste it will make, even before he decides to buy it.” According to Wikipedia; Underworld is a non-linear narrative that has many intertwined themes. A central character is Nick Shay, a waste management executive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underworld_%28DeLillo_novel%29
Royte on examining her own rubbish: “When I was going through my garbage for my book, I was ashamed about my garbage because everything in there represented some sort of failure.”
This last note is very relevant to HOARD. One of the things that appeals to me about the collection and exhibition of the rubbish generated through my practice is that it’s the objects and materials of failure; the failure to find a use; the negative in a polarisation of use and disuse.