Group Show

October 24 - November 15, 2009


" 'Garbage' is everywhere. It can be found in everything without exception, yet it also largely invisible to most of us. Garbage enjoins some deep thinking about how we make the world we live in, and how this making curiously ends up so totally detached in one sense [but still nonetheless connected, even if this is an unwelcome hanging – on ] from the things it creates. In an unproblematic sense garbage is leftover matter. It is what remains when the good, fruitful, valuable, nourishing and useful has been taken."
"Appropriation is the mother of garbage."
'On Garbage', John Scanlan, 20051
A recent Greenpeace survey announced that Bangladesh was the most efficient recycler of plastic in the world, with an over 95% recycling record. One wondered how a country with a negligible (organized) recycling infrastructure did better than 'Euro American' countries, which spends million to construct an organized sphere devoted to recycling2. The findings of Greenpeace give us an occasion to reiterate a (suggested) premise that poverty plays an important role in the urge to recycle. Is the apparent validity of this assumption confined only to the context of economic poverty? The answer to this to question finds shape as we expand our understanding of recycling to include objects and metaphors form the sphere of culture.
To liberate the practice metaphor called recycling from the narrow confines of waste management, one needs to understand that re-cycling is essentially an act of re-ordering and re-forming. Recycling also stands an antonym for disposing, a concept metaphor which has deep roots in the praxis of affluence and excess. Faced with this maze of contextual presumptions one begins to wonder, what are the other (various) category metaphors within which recycling operates. We RE-CLAIM/RE-CITE/RE-CYCLE Mughal gardens, cell phones, souvenirs, Hollywood into Bollywood, music as re-mixes, landscapes, religion, faith, ideas….almost everything.
Feeling divorced from our past, we re-order memory to produce history, fashion (ideas about our external appearances), goes through a series of trends wherein trends (allegedly) move in cycles; cell phones are being dismantled for their gold and silver contents, (in a trend that is know as urban mining). As we go in deeper into examples and observations, the initial presumption continues to get reiterated and we realize that indeed the desire and the practice of recycling are indeed rooted to certain experiences of scarcity. Further elaborating this line of thought, how and what we choose to recycle reveals a lot about our social psychology, divulging much about our desires and anxieties.
Of course in the recent past recycling has been re-constructed and re-positioned both as a way of life and as an industry. As we begin to enter an era characterized by the fear of loosing the planet itself, there is a realization that much of this impending disaster has been brought on by the industrial and post-industrial celebration of excess. Driven by post-capitalist systems of communication, we are in the midst of an extensive generation of consciousness positioning recycling as the dominant philosophy of new age materialism. This (over) understanding of recycling in terms of materiality increasingly lets us forget the deeper cultural roots and our engagement with it. This fractured and diverse relationship with our urge to save and re use is getting increasing appropriate by the neo liberal premises. It is maybe the right time to analyze and document artistic imaginations and representations of this concept metaphor called RE-CYCLING.

Bhavna Kaker