Archive for July, 2008
For those of you, like me, who couldn’t make it to the TRASHNAMI! opening last week, here’s a trashtastic interview with artist Kim Holleman. I’m posting this early because it’s the last trash of the week. Starting tonight I’ll be offline for a whole week, relaxing in rural Minnesota where the word on the river is that cell phones don’t work, not even global Blackberries. So exciting!
everydaytrash: What is a Trashnami? How did you collect the materials for this installation?
For TRASHNAMI!, I actually added in blues and greens that were purchased with money budgeted for the show. I also created stickers for the left over bags and handed them out as freebees.
After thoroughly skimming the press out there on Pixar’s trash robot oeuvre, I have chosen a camp on the “beautifully understated, morals shouldn’t be beaten over our heads” versus “apolitical fluff” debate. I liked it. Wall-E sends good messages about trash and its consequences and I believe I would have groaned had the links between an endless trash compaction on Earth and the sad fate of humans in space been made more clear. Of course, I don’t expect kids to go home and refuse Wall-E themed toys because they now understand the dangers of consumerism. But if we’re talking about important causes and saving what’s endangered, then my allegiance goes to all that is subtle.
As for the film itself, I agree that the first half is the best part. I was, of course, charmed by the little guy’s trash collection (in fact, it reminds me I have one more story from Oslo to share, that of an obsessive collector and found object artist). The only drawback for me (other than having to admit to buying into a Disney product) was that while Wall-E himself is very human and lovable, his love interest Eve is a cold machine. Despite warming a bit as the film goes on, she never quite acquires a personality. While I know some guys go for the ice queen thing, watching the wooing of a tin can gets a little old as the film wears on.
CNN reports that Berlusconi is about to announce the end of the Neapolitan trash crisis. Kind of like when Bush declared victory in Iraq.
This trashtastic art opening—6-10pm tonight in NYC—came in via The Danger List:
“Artists Wanted, in collaboration with White Box, is proud to announce the opening of Kim Holleman’s Chelsea Solo Show, CIRCA 2012. This exhibition is part of the White Box 6 Feet Under summer festival. Artists Wanted’s fall open call, “This Urgent Moment” challenged artists to submit new art & design work “that has the bite and blood to match the energy of our era;” Holleman did just that with her submission Trailer Park. The July 17th opening will be a grand street party in true Artists Wanted tradition.”
Attention photogs, the Nashua Telegraph wants your trash-themed pics. I’m sure this is not the last you’ll hear of this initiative.
It kills me that this CNN story is about “stealing trash”. Such sensationalism. Oh no, people are taking the things you should have recycled out of your trash and making money off the stuff you recycled and could have sold yourself but didn’t. I understand, to some extent, the annoyance of having your trash thrown all over the block if you’re the one who had to bundle to papers and sort the stuff in the first place. But that’s about all I’ll give you: mild annoyance.
Scott Kellogg and his partner Stacy Pettigrew are coauthors of “Toolbox for Sustainable Living: A Do it Ourselves Guide“. The book lays out the how-to in creating simple tools out of simple materials so that we, not to be redundant, can live more simply and use up fewer resources. These are tricks and tools the couple has developed and put to use as part of their organization, the Rhizome Collective and which they frequently share in what they call Radical Urban Sustainability Trainings (R.U.S.T.). I saw Scott give a talk on the book in New York recently. His talk emphasized the need for eating locally and making sustainable choices to be more than a green fad. The questions from the audience focused on how hard that can be when one lives in a concrete jungle. Scott was a kind enough to answer a few follow-up questions for a (long overdue) Trashtastic Tuesday interview.
everydaytrash: What is radical sustainability?
Kellogg: “Radical Sustainability” is a term that we came up with at the Rhizome Collective to reclaim the term sustainability that has been all but entirely co-opted by multinational corporations to promote the neo-liberal economic agenda. The original idea of sustainability is that renounces should be available to innumerable numbers of human generations and should be equitably distributed as well. Radical sustainability emphasizes the relationship between environmental sustainability and social justice. It’s not enough to just be green, but to be a good environmental steward you have to look at race and class and equity…that’s it in a nutshell.
everydaytrash: What are some of the sustainable living tools you have created out of trash?
Kellogg: We’ve treated household wastewater with tossed bathtubs—those are items generally found in the trash. We’ve also made passive solar water heaters out of junk refrigerators and old hot water heating tanks. We’ve constructed wind turbines out of recycled bike parts. We try to really look at how we can [build sustainable living tools] using cheap, salvaged and recycled materials. If you’re looking at what’s local and abundant in cities: that’s trash.
everydaytrash: What can people living in cities can do (particularly those like me who have no roof access and no backyard) to lead more sustainable lives?
Kellogg: First, worm boxes can be just a simple little plastic box to keep red wigglers, a variety of worm that can eat a pretty good portion of household kitchen scraps. They don’t smell, don’t take up hardly any space and can be expanding modularly by adding boxes. The castings created by the worms are fabulous for gardens. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can give them to a friend.
Another thing I recommend in cities is growing edible, miniscule mushrooms on logs…this can be done in apartments that don’t get a lot of direct light.
everydaytrash: What kinds of big-picture policy things can people do?
Kellogg: I encourage people to organize with neighbors and interested people to gain access to vacant lots. There’s a lot of space in cities that can be turned into food producing spaces. A lot can be done terms of policy. If we’re going to talk seriously about bringing resources closer to cities, this is what needs to happen.
Photos ripped from the Rhizome Collective site
I have umbrellas on the brain. I could have really used a parasol yesterday to avoid the seriously bizarre tan lines I got while celebrating Bastille Day. Also, it’s raining and despite noticing that when I got out of bed today I still didn’t grab an umbrella before heading out the door. I got halfway down the block before deciding to head back, go all the way back upstairs and grab one. I think in the back of my mind this absentmindedness is a temporary state that I’ll one day shed, caterpillar style and emerge a fully put-together adult woman. The kind who checks the weather every morning before leaving the house and keeps a suit jacket and extra pair of heels at the office and band aids in her purse, just in case.
I’ve been thinking about buying a snazzy trash umbrella, but can’t justify the purchase since I already have an amazing hippo umbrella with ears and am fundamentally opposed to the eco-chic backlash of buying more stuff because it’s “green”. That said, I have a lot of admiration for groups like Monsoon Vermont and any income generating project that employs scavengers. [As Clement L., a commenter on a previous post, pointed out, trash is the textile of the future, it tells the stories of our lives. I'm digging that image this morning. It reminds me of grade school and studying the pioneer days when families embroidered patches with abstracted images of life events and sewed them together in quits.]
This company TerraCycle makes a lot of the same style stuff without the feel good international charity piece. Instead, they’ll pay YOU for sending in used candy wrappers and drink pouches. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Nevertheless, here’s a charming video of how a Capri Sun pouch becomes a tote. I’d love to know what you think.
A lot of my garblogging of late has been pointing out new things to buy. I’d like to get away from that. Remember the umbrella inside out design competition? For some reason I found that whole concept more inspiring than the juice-box bag craze. Maybe it’s that the juice boxes seem a tiny bit self-righteous. And while I’m all about self-righteous accessories (nearly all of my jewelry comes from women’s collectives in Africa), I think I’d rather be wearing a little dress made out of an old umbrella and be the only one who knows the secret back story than something that screams “look at me, I recycle”!
Image of dress via Treehugger
One of the fun things about going out of town and slacking off on the trash research for a bit is that when you finally get around to rooting around for what you missed, there’s quite a bit out there. Treat yourself to this excellent WebUrbanist post highlighting 7 trash artists. You’ll see some old favorites, like the miraculous silhouettes made from trash shadows to the world renowned trash people to street art made from trash. But there are some new (to me at least) discoveries in there as well: turkeys made from scrap metal and this lovely bear head made of woven plastic bags. If you ask me, there’s nothing sweeter than a plastic bag bear.
Photo of an Eden Project sculpture via Flikr via WebUrbanist
Check it, this French guy has built a replica of the entire city of Paris in his backyard out of, you guessed it, trash!
Note: The caption says he’s been working on this project for 15 years and is only 29. Talk about life’s work. Perhaps I can track him down for a Q&A on lifelong obsessions!
Via Boing Boing! (Thanks for the tip, Brendan)