We all create waste. This is an unavoidable truth, but what really matters is how we manage the waste and the items we class as waste and haphazardly throw into the rubbish bin without a second thought.
Artist Joshua Sofaer is particularly fascinated by the concept of exploring environmental and ecological issues, and has decided to confront the public about the heavy waste culture we live in by closely following the journey of waste as part of the Science Museum’s Climate Changing programme.
The Rubbish Collection
In particular, his project named ‘The Rubbish Collection’ sees members of the Museum dressed in matching grey boiler suits, along with members of the public, sorting through all the waste that has been produced by the museum over a 30 day period. Piles of rubbish will be sorted onto a bright, white archive table, photographed and exhibited in the museum, but Sofaer strongly states; “I want it to be a haptic process. And while I don’t want the returned waste to just be plonked, I don’t want it to look too artful either. I want the materials to speak for themselves.”
With a personal story to every single item of rubbish, the public’s response has been fantastic as people are embracing the project and its values. From discarded lunchtime food items, to loose change that has now been collected in a piggy bank, the array of objects is vast and portrays a day-to-day archive of the typical things we throw away without a second thought.
The exhibition of this project in the Science museum could come as quite a shock to some as it usually only exhibits those precious and historical items, yet this ties into capitalist notions whereby someone can apply some paint to a canvas, call it art and charge millions for it. This concept relates to the same idea artist Piero Manzni was toying with in the 1960’s, when he created ‘Artist’s Shit’ that explored the idea of even giving shit a value.
Waste Disposal Sites and Recycling Plants
Prior to the project, Sofaer first carried out research by visiting several waste disposal sites and recycling plants throughout England, with the aim to educate others by taking them to visit these sites too. During his visits, he saw giant claw-like cranes collect a huge amount of waste in one go, feeding it into massive incinerators where the furnace burnt away. Yet the most bizarre thing is that the ash produced from this process is then used to make road surfaces, so we are literally driving on our own rubbish! This concept epitomises the ethics of the project, as many people live by the irresponsible belief ‘out of sight, out of mind’, yet this proves that on some level or another, the waste we produce will never disappear entirely.
Ultimately, Joshua Sofaer is tapping into the sheer value, volume and beauty that can astonishingly be found in the heaps of rubbish we produce as a nation every day. With the hope that we can learn to appreciate the repercussions of the waste we thoughtlessly produce, there is no questions that we should all begin to re-think just exactly what happens to the rubbish after we toss it into the bin and walk away!
Part of Joshua Sofaer’s project included touring recycling plants throughout England, just like Hinton’s Waste.
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