They say ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’ but what about ‘One man’s trash is another man’s art?’ You probably don’t think about it often: the fact that rubbish can be turned into art. Indeed, I’d bet that most of you have never thought about it. I’ll admit, the idea of turning your old banana peel into a masterpiece or your discarded gum wrappers into a picture to rival Giotto or Michelangelo might seem a little odd. However, the Florentine Waste Management Agency, Il
Quadrifoglio (The Four-leaf Clover), has not only considered this idea but has taken it to a new level of creativity.
To celebrate its fiftieth year of taking out the trash, Il Quadrifoglio is holding a special art exhibition entitled ‘Precious Garbage: New Realism and Contemporary Culture.’ Il Quadrifoglio prides itself on not only collecting all your food scraps, cardboard boxes and other things you’d rather not think about after you’ve tossed them in the wastebasket, but also on educating the public on how to take care of its garbage and the environment in general. With this commitment in mind, the exhibit, which runs from May 10 until June 30, will feature a number of pieces by contemporary artists constructed from – what else? – rubbish.
The exhibition will be divided into three sections. The fi rst will focus on the history of Il Quadrifoglio and will tell its fi fty-year-long story through photographs taken from the agency’s archives. It will also include a video presentation entitled ‘The Last Voyage of Garbage ’, which shows the process that garbage goes through once it leaves your neighborhood dumpster. A second section will feature the work of various artists who were specially invited by the exhibit’s curator, Maurizio Vanni, to create pieces for the show. All of the works, which will include paintings, sculptures, ceramics, video-art, photographs and various types of fashion and jewelry, will be constructed from recycled and used materials. The objective is to show that just because something has fulfilled its intended purpose does not mean it’s no longer valuable. In fact, when you throw something away its life is not necessarily over. If you know how to treat it, it can continue to grow and create forever! The third section will display some of the most important works from the 1960 theorist movement
of Pierre Restany – a part of the New Realism movement. The works featured will be among the most important of this movement and will include a variety of artists and a wide array of different media. The three sections will be connected by lighted crossings which will send audio-visual signals, fragrances and smells to the spectators, giving them a sensory experience of the materials used by the artists. These sensations will make the viewer feel like a part of this ‘world of refuse’ and will help to raise awareness of the individual’s responsibilities when dealing with rubbish. Another aim of this feature is to involve children and make them understand that they can take care of their world and make it an even better place in which to live in the future. To help foster this sense of responsibility, a special videogame entitled ‘The Little Garbage Man’ has been created especially for the younger audience. This game features a character armed with a broom-like object that he uses to pick up and dispose of garbage in the proper manner. Upon leaving the exhibit, the game will be available for download onto cell phones.
Who knows, after you leave, you may never look at yesterday’s newspaper or that piece of dental fl oss in the same way again. In fact – dare I suggest it? – you might even start looking forward to taking out the trash.
‘Precious Garbage: New Realism and Contemporary Culture’ will be held in the Stozzilina of Palazzo Strozzi from May 10 – June 30. Entrance is free and the exhibit is open to the public every day from 10am to 7pm.