Garbage - 2005-2007 - Inkjet prints - Approximately 4"x7"
This is garbage.
In 1922 the Indianapolis Journal (now defunct) received the Pulitzer Prize for its investigative journalism that exposed the organized racial violence of the Ku Klux Klan. In the gutter a few feet from the sign that marks the location where the offices and presses of the journal once stood were two Indian head air fresheners.
On the white sand of the beach with the Atlantic stretching off to the horizon there sits a Sunkist pop bottle. It lies near where the African-American men of the 54th Massachusetts charged Battery Wagner. The event was later made famous by the motion picture Glory.
Along the side of the road, nearly buried in the weeds, lies a White Castle cup. It is feet away from the sign indicating that near this place, Native Americans were massacred. The whites who committed the crimes were executed by hanging. It was the first time whites had been executed by the US government for killing Native Americans.
On an early Sunday morning, on the near empty sidewalk that borders separated from the pit that was the World Trade Center towers by a 20 foot tall chain link fence is a discarded cup. “Au Bon Pain – What you are about to enjoy is very hot!” is written in yellow ink on the cup.
This is garbage. Collected from locations across the United States as well as England, it has been treated as evidence. Attached to the history of the location in which it was found, it bears witness to the ways in which the present is formed from the past. History infuses everything. It is born out even in the disconnected bits of trash that might seem randomly tossed onto these locations. But there are connections. Without the events that occurred in these places, this garbage would never be there.
I have always been fascinated with the ordinary, with the hidden significances of banal spaces and everyday objects. The mundane stuff of everyday life, the trash along the road, the endless flat fields along side a highway, the collectibles and mementos we display, or pack away in the attic, all seem to me to bear an extraordinary weight. They have always spoken to me, to whisper inaudibly of the tragedies and triumphs of lives I will never see but that will touch me, gently altering the course of my own without my having ever been aware of the pressure of their existence.