ARCHIVING THE CITY

for the city yet to come

Posts tagged “trash

evidence

Posted on July 20, 2011

In January I went to White Columns to see, “Looking Back,” an exhibit surveying artwork shown in New York in 2010, curated by Bob Nickas. The work was a mix of mostly New York-based artists, young and old, living and dead. One piece that caught my attention was by Candy Jernigan:


Candy Jernigan, Found Dope: Part II, 1986 (detail)
Found objects on paper 28 in. x 39 in.

Broken bits of used crack vials are pasted into into grid formation on a large poster, sealed behind glass, like the butterflies of a 19th century natural historian. Beneath each artifact in the grid is small even block handwriting, marking the date, time and location of its collection, e.g. June 11/Second Avenue at Third street/west side/10 AM. At the center of the grid, towards the bottom, is a hand-drawn map of a section of Manhattan’s East Village, running from Houston Street in the south to Eighth Street in the north, and west to east from Broadway to Avenue A. A small dot on the map is marked with the words “We are here.” Is “here” the site of the piece’s original exhibition, or the home of the artist?

Seven months after seeing this piece, it stays with me as an influence in my own work. The simplicity of the idea, the dedication of the artist to the everyday routine of walking around her neighborhood, and the obsessiveness of collecting and labeling that pariah of all New York trash–used drug paraphernalia–all combine into a portrait of a neighborhood at a particular moment in its history; a moment all but unimaginable in today’s East Village, with its moneyed and policed revelers. What sorts of trash might an observant walker find on her morning walk through the same streets, two decades after Jernigan?

dumpster diving

Posted on July 11, 2011

Alejandro Duran, Washed Up, 2010

New York based artist, Alejandro Duran, is creating art from trash that washes up on the beaches of Sian Ka’an, in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Although Sian Ka’an is a federally-protected reserve, the Mexican government cannot prevent the area from becoming the final resting place for trash from all over the world. Duran collects the trash, categorizes the different pieces by color, strips them of labels, arranges his collections in the landscape, and then photographs them. The playful titles of the photographs, such as Nubes, Fruta Negra, and Mar (pictured above) belie the perverse horror of waste which will never biodegrade–carelessly discarded by people who believe what they can’t see won’t hurt them–travelling on the open seas and eventually choking the life of a nature reserve thousands of miles away.

Duran also creates “Product Portraits,” which he labels with the product’s country of origin. After photographing these items, Duran uses his own funds to cart the trash to recycling centers. However, this is an extremely difficult undertaking for one artist working under the constraints of time, money and geography.

Washed Up is truly an exercise in “archiving the city,” if we imagine that cities all around the world create these waste-images of themselves, carried by currents to far-away places.

dangerous archives?

Posted on December 8, 2010

Watch the development of the case against Julian Assange very carefully. It’s pretty bizzare: sexual assault? espionage? Some are coming to his defense. As my friend Barbara says, one likely result of this drama will be greater restrictions on the way we are able to access, use and create various media archives. CBS News predicts a future of never-ending cyberwar. Never forget: sorting through these sorts of archives or databases is the political practice of our time, made even more so by sheer ubiquity. And the creation of digital archives themselves? What sort of politics is that? One New Republic editorial questions Julian Assange’s/Wikileaks’ status as beacons of serious journalism, governmental transparency and democracy due to their commitment to collect data, without organization and…

my archival practice

Posted on March 23, 2010

I had a great question from my colleague today: Hi Adeola. I’m curious how you think about your archiving practices in relation to your archiving (analysis? retrieval?)… I know in your work you are more focused on studying rather than creating archives. But you do create them, so I’m wondering how the 2 activities relate for you. Is one more personal and the other more academic? Or can there be such a distinction for you? What do you think Benjamin was doing with the Arcades project? This was a great question, because it forced me to think carefully and articulate my approach to archiving. Here is my answer: I don’t work on “the archive”, per se, because I think that it is too fetishized…

Trashing the city

Posted on January 14, 2009

On 14 december, 2009, on Stout Street, between Lambton Quay and Ballance Street, in the center of Wellington, New Zealand, there was a pile of rubbish blockading the entire road and making the street impassable for cars, pedestrians and cyclists. This impromptu blockade was a “One Day Sculpture” called Journee des Barricades by British artists, Heather and Ivan Morison. According to the artists’ statement: Car wrecks, discarded furniture and other urban detritus barricaded a central city street in Wellington, New Zealand on Sunday 14th December 2008. The temporary public artwork entitled Journée des barricades acts as a rupture in the everyday comings and goings of the city. In its barricade form, the sculpture might suggest associations with the history of political actions and social…

  

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