Trashtastic Tuesday with Frieso Boning


Tuesday comes early this week as I pack up for a wee hiatus. This week we check in Frieso Boning, the trashy mastermind behind The Winnipeg Trash Museum (first garblogged by Visible Trash).


everydaytrash: The Winnipeg Trash Museum has been described alternately as a grant proposal, art exhibit, dream, myth and reality. How would you describe what it is exactly?

Boning: The Winnipeg Trash museum is all of these things. Let me describe it exactly. It was first an idea. A simple little idea combining a love of the abused and used, the lost, the discarded and the abandoned with a love of THE MUSEUM – ( use any dictionary definition). The Winnipeg Trash Museum then became a grant proposal and failed as such on two different occasions, much to the consternation of many, including a financially strapped artist. With the moral and financial support of ACE ART, Winnipeg’s premiere artist run co-operative the work was finally realized as an art exhibit. The exhibition took about three years to develop and put together. It was exhibited from September 13 to October 13, 2007 at ACE ART in Winnipeg. So the dream of creating an exhibit about creating the Trash Museum Project was realized. But what about the museum? What about the dream? Well if I had a million dollars for every positive comment I had about the show and its content and meaning, we’d be breaking the ground for the museum tomorrow. The reality is that the Winnipeg Trash Museum has become, in many senses, mythical in its proportions. It now exists solely in the minds and hearts of all the people who attended the exhibit and the vision lives on in every bit of debris and piece of garbage that is noticed on a sidewalk, street or field, and then imagined upon.


everydaytrash: How did you first become interested in trash and what got you started on this project?

Boning: I have had a lifelong interest in trash and garbage and this interest has, throughout my career, found its way into my practice. Back in 1983 I constructed a series of sculptures made up entirely of garbage. The works were called “Animals of the City” and the works, when completed, were returned to the streets to be discovered and possibly recovered or simply not noticed. That’s one early example. Fast Forward. The Winnipeg Trash Museum‘s origin was inspired by two things that, when connected, became the project. The first inspirational element was my interest in the architectural competition for the design of our city’s proposed Museum of Human Rights and a strange desire I had to build my own museum. At about the same time, in the early spring of 2005, I began collecting little bits of garbage and debris that emerged from the melting snow. What broke things open was seeing the form a building in a collected pile of junk. I recognized it as a museum. A museum about Trash.


everydaytrash: While many artists who deal with issues of waste and consumption stick to the serious side of the subject matter, your work seems to employ a lot of satire. Is trash inherently funny?

Boning: Some people felt I had my “tongue firmly planted in my cheek”, and that I was primarily interested in sending up, not just environmentalism and serious museological practice, but also the proposed new museum of human rights. Some people thought of the idea as benignly quixotic and that I was just plain crazy. None of this is true. I knew from the start that this project was going to be a hard sell. So I employed an often subversive humorous and satirical stance to make my voice heard, to communicate the more sensitive and meaningful things that underlie the Trash Museum project. Trash is not inherently funny to me. I see it as a subject that can be examined in any number of ways: scientifically, sociologically, psychologically, historically, culturally and even poetically. I am most interested in the bathos and pathos of trash. You have only to take a long look at the “Children of the Landfill” or Ann Lawler’s “If Combs Could Speak” to understand.


Photos generously provided by Boning

2 Responses to “Trashtastic Tuesday with Frieso Boning”

  1. Little Shiva Says:

    Thanx for the credit, Leila. Frieso’s project is amazing.

  2. The Trash Museum | The Trash Blog Says:

    […] Hackensack Meadowlands in New Jersey used to have one. There was an art exhibit in Winnipeg that wanted to be a trash museum. New York has an informal one. But in Connecticut, they really do keep their trash […]

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