The inspiration for this project came from a dumpsite I encountered in Machu Picchu, Peru. The amount of waste being produced in Aguas Calientes (the nearby town), by those traveling to see Machu Picchu, overwhelms the existing waste infrastructure, spilling over into this makeshift site in the middle of the nearby wooded area. Standing face to face with my own impact made me think about how I could address these issues with my work.
Our waste is becoming more of a problem everyday. The more we consume, the more we waste. With our economy depending on consumer spending, the things we all use are designed to be obsolete soon after we purchase them.
The lack of reusability of these items make it harder for this waste to be reintroduced into the production cycle. At times this waste finds its way to abandoned properties, or into the middle of the woods, where it spills over into our ecosystem.
These spaces are contaminated without regard for property line, ownership, or inhabitants. My interventions within these spaces are based on the desire to re-contextualize these artifacts into a new meaning. By doing so I want to change these spaces, and start a conversation based on the possibility of change.
The photographs and terrariums for the project are correlated with a public online map created by the Estonian organization "Let's Do It! World," who has been raising awareness about the issue of waste in our environment since 2008. To see the map of these locations please go to www.letsdoitworld.org/wastemap, where you can see the Geotagged photographs of the dumpsites I've encountered in Fairfax County Virginia. The map allows anyone who wants to get involved in the conversation to participate by tapping into the idea of "citizen scientists" or "Volunteer Geographic Information," where individuals can add to the map and inform the community of the locations of these sites.
Throughout this project I investigated the conditions of marginalized landscapes, and the psychology of waste through sculpture, performance, and intervention. Utilizing discarded objects from illegal dumpsites, I produced site-responsive sculptures that invest materials with new function and aesthetic, turning car bumpers, metal, and wood into a transparent outhouse and a makeshift modular garden.
In order to bring the conversation of what I was finding back into the gallery space, I created terrariums that contained materials found at the sites; everything from the glass container to the soil. Specific varieties of plants and mushrooms were used for their soil bioremediation characteristics, through the process of "phytoremediation" and "mycoremediation."
Phytoremediation and mycoremediation consists of mitigating pollutant concentrations in contaminated soil, water, or air, with plants and fungi able to contain, degrade, or eliminate various contaminants from the media that contain them without the need to excavate the contaminant material, reducing toxins in-situ.
This part of the project is a response to the contamination I encountered at each site. It is meant to be a metaphor for a solution that relies on remediation through natural processes. The terrariums are sealed with wood tops, preventing further contamination, but also protecting us from the contaminates we have created.
Claiming Ground was made for an exhibition at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, titled Alchemical Vessels. The theme of the exhibition was to talk about transformation and healing. Through my exploration of illegal dumpsites, I couldn't help but notice how nature is attempting to heal itself from our impact by using our detritus as a growing medium, creating a stark contrast between our synthetic materials and living organisms.
This vessel uses only those synthetic materials. They were all found at an illegal dumpsite in Fairfax Virginia. By assembling carpets, shirts, and other materials, this container becomes the perfect example of nature’s transformative qualities. This system will continue to survive with only sunlight, and the moisture sealed within the container. The plants within will regulate their own production of both the needed Oxygen and CO2.
F.I.N.E. is a video created to describe the type of wandering through the landscape that occurred while mapping illegal dumpsites. Often there was no set path taken to get there, rather it was about observations made as I searched. My use of satire is meant to contrast my thoughts as I encountered these spaces and give an insight into my own psychogeography.
Something Out of Nothing is video documentation of my first engagement with the space. All materials for the building of this sculpture were found at the site where the sculpture was built.
36 Bumpers is my reaction to seeing someone dump 36 car bumpers at a particular dumpsite. The bumpers were cut and riveted into a shape that could then hold soil for planting, ultimately becoming a community garden for anyone that would encounter it, but made specifically for the person that dumped the material.