Writers, artists, and filmmakers investigate the proposition that we are what we throw away - Trash: the emptied out, the used up, the broken, the outgrown, the obsolete; the dispossessed, the lost, the left behind. In "Trash", writers, artists, and filmmakers look at how we are defined by what we waste and discover that we are what we throw away. "Trash" surveys a terrain that ranges from micro (a typology of dust bunnies) to macro (studies of landfill design and the trashed space of urban brownfield sites). It investigates the logic of trash as it is applied to humans and looks at lives intimately dependent on trash, taking us from the abducted girls of Juarez to the recycling communities of China. These excavations of trash include philosopher Barry Allen's tracing of the borderline where thought turns to trash, Susan Coolen's collection of paper airplanes found in the streets of Montreal, and the strange and obsessive project of artist Kristan Horton to recreate tableaux from the film Dr. Strangelove with bits of trash. Poet, Priscilla Uppal writes about her Uncle Fernando, known to his neighbors in Brasilia as "Dr.
Garbage" ("When they go to the movies/he goes through their garbage"), and Karilee Fuglem's photographs reveal the intricacy of household fluff. Rebecca Duclos and David Ross create an advertisement for a fictional museum that houses artifacts discarded by other museums, and Priya Sarukkai Chabria's cantos of "Refuse/Refused" give voice to an old woman in India discarded, like trash, by her family, a shard of a broken mirror ("My time will come when/yours is done"), and a worm in a "cathedral of rot." "Trash" explores the ethics and psychology of trash and what these reveal about contemporary industrial society. The investigations range from the whimsical to the disturbing, and offers a variety of approaches to rehabilitating and rediscovering what is too commonly tossed aside.
John Knechtel is Director of Alphabet City Media in Toronto.