Trashtastic Tuesday with Kuros Zahedi


I posted a week or two ago that Sustainable Dave‘s recycling materials might be made into a work of art.  It was something I’d read on 365 Days of Trash, making a mental note to follow up and find out just who the artist could be.  As luck would have it, that artist found me first.

Kuros Zahedi, self portrait in powdered alder wood and bark on paper

Kuros Zahedi, self portrait in powdered alder wood and bark on paper

His name is Kuros Zahedi and he comes with excellent credentials: experience in working with recycled materials, an ongoing project to turn Ari Derfel of Save Your Trash‘s trash into a work of art  and a kick ass Persian name (we’re partial to Iranian-Americans around here).

What better way to kick off the first Trashtastic Tuesday of the new year?

everydaytrash: How did you link up with Ari Derfel?

Zahedi: Ari was looking for an artist to turn his collection into a work of art.  He looked the monster in the eye and by doing so put the whole phenomenon of garbage under a lens for everyone.  Ari was Finding Away.  That is title of the art work.

I was involved with a project for a great group in Seattle called Sustainable Capitol Hill.  One of the organizers had a friend who was friends with Ari.  One year’s worth of trash!  What a potent collection to work with, I thought!   I emailed and shared my work.  Ari wrote back.  We talked on email.  We talked on the phone.  I liked Ari immediately.  I liked his energy, his upbeat positivity, spirituality and openness… and the next thing I knew, I was on my way to Oakland.

Ari's trash

Ari's trash

everydaytrash: What are your plans for his trash?

Zahedi: I have counted, weighed and thoroughly documented Ari’s trash and am now starting to take it apart.  It will get crushed, cut and pulped.  It will be totally transformed.

Ari Derfel’s collection brings Trash itself into unusual focus.  Looking deeply into the essence of waste reveals much more than the filth of landfills.  Trash is the precipitate of a much larger reaction.  It stands as a symbol of civilization’s disjointedness and as an emblem of our historic destructiveness and greed toward each other and the earth’s precious ecology.  Today, not only are the earth’s biological systems on the verge of breaking down, but many raw natural resources that civilization depends on are becoming increasingly rare.  EITHER there will be terrible fighting for these resources, leading to suffering on a unimaginable scale, OR there will have to be some sort of major shift in human consciousness, a general enlightenment.

The art work I am developing is a metaphoric vision of this shift.  It will depict humanity collectively rising and working together transform ugliness into beauty, the damaging into the beneficial, and the fragmented into the whole.

What other work have you done with rubbish materials?

Zahedi: I have an ongoing series called Urban Alchemy in which I pick up litter from the streets, often with the help of communities, and then transform the collected trash into art.  My fascination with using trash has a lot to do with its iconic status as the lowest of low and the powerful symbolism of turning it into a work of art.  Often, by the time a piece is finished, the place which was cleaned for it has started to become dirty again, but like an acupuncture needle, a subtle good has been done there. The gesture of cleaning a place and turning the garbage into art is tiny in relation to the enormous challenges facing humanity today, but the project is a metaphor, it is a symbolic act of healing.

"Garden of Hope," created from Seattle street litter, staples, and shellac on recycled doors

"Garden of Hope," created from Seattle street litter, staples, and shellac on recycled doors

everydaytrash: I hear you might do a similar project with Sustainable Dave‘s recycling.  Any teasers you can share about what that project might be like?

Zahedi: I am excited that Dave is planning on sending me his recycling!  His trash is going on permanent display at the Garbage Museum, but I will get his recycling.  Though I have many ideas, I don’t know what I will do with it yet…but using just recyclable materials will present an interesting conceptual challenge.

2 Responses to “Trashtastic Tuesday with Kuros Zahedi”

  1. Finding Away « everydaytrash Says:

    […] By Leila Darabi As previously covered here, artist Kuros Zahedi likes to make stuff out of trash that other people save. His piece, Finding Away is made from the […]

  2. The other green movement « everydaytrash Says:

    […] have an affinity for trash. Through the blog I have discovered the trash-related work of artist Kuros Zahedi, filmmaker Ramin Bahrani, and food justice activist Andy Sarjahani. [Note, I think Bahrani is […]

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