Archive for Case 1: Household Refuse


by cindy

Finally watched this movie last night.  It is really great.

In its own way the film covers so many of the ideas that we have discussed in class over the semester: the practice of gleaning, the process by which waste policy can be formalized by outsiders, the contents of trash as a reflection of a culture’s ideas and values, trash as the great equalizer (the trash of the rich mixing with the trash of the poor), the social judgements projected upon those who process our garbage, etc.   It leaves the attentive viewer with a lot to think about on the topic of waste management without becoming a didactic work on the subject.

Of course the film is equally about the transformative power of art and the evolution of the artist through the process as well.

The narrative reminded a bit of the Oscar winning film “Born into Brothels”.   While uplifting on one hand, Born into Brothers had did have some problematics around the lens in which it was observed, ie: western white eye goes to Indian brothels, uplifts street kids through art, sells art to rich white people.)  Wasteland is a bit less problematic in this regard since the subjects are adults (less inherently exploitable) and because they are being observed by a native of their culture and background.   I appreciated that aspect of the film making as well.

It’s worth a watch for sure.


Collyer Brothers

By: Elizabeth

I’m sure most of you have heard of the Collyer Brothers, but in case you haven’t… I just saw a puppet film (all done with paper puppets as opposed to animated) about them and was reminded of their ridiculous story.

They were two wealthy eccentric brothers who lived in Harlem and became insane horders over a period of decades (allegedly both a boat and an entire car were found among the rubble of their excavated apartment). They ended up literally being killed by the stockpile of their own household refuse- One brother was crushed by an avalanche of stuff, leaving the second (who, handicapped and blind, depended on his brother for survivial) to starve to death.

Their home was eventually destroyed and turned into a park, in their honor.

THIS is what I’m throwing out!

by Tassos Lockbird

I am posting four pictures, containing 4 different types of refuse.

The first picture is my plastic/glass/metal waste bag. I usually put everything in a  plastic bag as well, to make things easier.







The second picture is my paper waste bag. Again, I try to use paper bags; it just   makes sense to me.






The third picture is my roommates “waste-area”, under the sink. He is not as methodical, I could say…..leaving a couple of weeks’ plastics and papers to pile up in order to empty it.







Finally, the fourth picture is kind of the opposite of household refuse. It’s the door of a vending machine that I found on 14th st. and I brought it back home in order to transform it to a light fixture. I’ve had it since October and I’m not sure if I will find an electrician who can do what I have in mind, but still I think it’s really cool.

Museum of Broken Relationships

Our talk last class of giving away sentimental items that end up in a flea market or vintage store vs. throwing away a once-treasured object that will end up in a landfill somewhere reminded me of The Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia. An interesting way to deal with sentimental gifts or reminders of an ex you want to get rid of but want them to have a good home..the concept of the exhibit revolves around the idea of failed relationships and their ruins that are left behind. People contribute their personal belongings to the Museum’s collection. Items include teddy bears, love letters, jewelery, photos, undergarments etc.


spring cleaning

by cindy.

it seems these days that virtually everyone i talk to is spring cleaning.  spring cleaning is almost always about getting rid of things, purging the household of unnecessary accumulation, sorting through and identifying the waste from the non-waste.

according to wikipedia, spring cleaning is historically informed by cultures as diverse as iranian to scottish, jewish to greek.  often there are religious rituals or climate factors that come into play.

it got me thinking about the seasonality of waste.  there is a strong tie to agricultural practices and archetypes.

fall is considered a season of abundance (harvest, celebrations of plenty, etc.).  the abundance is accumulated and stored throughout the winter.  spring is autumn’s abundance counterpoint, the rebirth of the earth’s ability to produce.

in our quasi post agrarian society, these attitudinal cycles surrounding stuff remain, with agricultural accumulation supplanted by consumer accumulation.  we are still somehow programmed to want to evacuate the unused remains of winter upon the arrival of spring.



Real. Emotional. Trash.

by cindy

Last month, I spent the weekend combing through my closets, drawers, storage unit and weeding out bags and bags of clothes to get rid of.  The bags have been languishing in my storage unit (out of sight, out of mind!) but I’ve been meaning to take them to Salvation Army or Goodwill or some similar place in order to donate them.

Going through old clothing can be like re-visiting a moment in time of our personal lives.  We wear the garments, but they in turn embody our experience, emotions, memory, fears, hopes, and dreams.  The outfit we wore on that one amazing (or disasterous) date; the shoes we bought on a whim reacting to some recent and ridiculous seasonal trend that we feared we’d miss out on somehow; the outfit we bought for the job interview to show our successful/creative/responsible/ambitious, etc. self; the annual christmas sweater from mom and dad that we feel guilty about never wearing but even more guilty about giving away; the underwear we desperately hope we won’t be wearing if and when we get hit by a car and taken to the hospital.

The evacuation of clothing also reveals fashion’s time.  The fashion industry is a perfect example of the programmed obsolescence of style.  Style is cyclical, re-purposed, re-contextualized.  One year a certain look – hemline, heel style, color palette, material, pantline – is de rigeur; the next it becomes shameful and ostracized.  Disposable clothing, i.e. H&M, has become the norm.  It’s how we’re programmed to buy more every season.  From time to time, an article of clothing that has been languishing on the closet for years suddenly comes back into style.  Waiting for this moment – or the moment wherein we lose that weight, have that perfect occasion, buy that one last thing to make the outfit complete – often contributes to the process of holding onto clothing long after the need for it has come and gone.

(99) Calvino is hilarious

“The kitchen which should be the happiest place in the house is now seen by women as a place of oppression and by men as a place of remorse.”


Imagine when he gets to the bedroom.