I am reading about the work of Russian Artist Ilya Kabakov who has worked with garbage in his art practice for several decades. Here are two excepts I found particularly poignant from the text.
“[Garbage]…cannot be reduced to a concept nor can death overcome it, and every idea is rendered stupid beside it: it is like a swamp in which both art and philosophy are submerged…Garbage subverts and deconstructs the usual distinction between memory and forgetting, between death and survival. Thus garbage threatens art but simultaneously provides it with an opportunity.”
“There is an internal kinship between art and garbage: the work of art and the piece of garbage are equally useless, non-functional, superfluous things, peripheral to the universal traffic in commodities. While artwork stays in a museum, where it is stored, catalogued and annotated, the piece of garbage is thrown away and disappears somewhere ‘outside’ away from our cultural living space. Garbage forms the the great Other of our culture: it is dangerous, poisonous, hostile to humanity, and must be destroyed…At the same time, all cultural forms and products face a final choice after their inevitable historical death” either they are turned into museum pieces or they end up on the ‘garbage heap of history’…Thus archeological museums are filled with items dug up from the garbage pits of earlier times. And modern artists make copious use of everyday detritus of our own time practicing a kind of archaeology of modern life. But the relationship between art and garbage cannot solely be seen as salvation from garbage through art. On occasion garbage can rescue art as well.”