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Trash Culture

Objects and Obsolescence in Cultural Perspective

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Gillian Pye

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, concerns about the environment and the future of global capitalism have dominated political and social agendas worldwide. The culture of excess underlying these concerns is particularly evident in the issue of trash, which for environmentalists has been a negative category, heavily implicated in the destruction of the natural world. However, in the context of the arts, trash has long been seen as a rich aesthetic resource and, more recently, particularly under the influence of anthropology and archaeology, it has been explored as a form of material culture that articulates modes of identity construction.
In the context of such shifting, often ambiguous attitudes to the obsolete and the discarded, this book offers a timely insight into their significance for representations of social and personal identity. The essays in the book build on scholarship in cultural theory, sociology and anthropology that suggests that social and personal experience is embedded in material culture, but they also focus on the significance of trash as an aesthetic resource. The volume illuminates some of the ways in which our relationship to trash has influenced and is influenced by cultural products including art, architecture, literature, film and museum culture.

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Acknowledgements vii List of Illustrations ix Gillian Pye Introduction: Trash as Cultural Category 1 Kevin Hetherington The Ruin Revisited 15 Sonja WindmÜller ‘Trash Museums’: Exhibiting in Between 39 lee stickells and Nicole Sully Haunting the Boneyard 59 Kathleen James-Chakraborty Recycling Landscape: Wasteland into Culture 77 Tahl Kaminer The Triumph of the Insignificant 95 Douglas Smith Scrapbooks: Recycling the Lumpen in Benjamin and Bataille 113 vi Uwe C. Steiner The Problem of Garbage and the Insurrection of Things 129 Wim Peeters Deconstructing ‘Wasted Identities’ in Contemporary German Literature 147 Catherine Bates and Nasser Hussain Talking Trash/ Trashing Talk: Cliché in the Poetry of bpNichol and Christopher Dewdney 165 Randall K. van Schepen The Heroic ‘Garbage Man’: Trash in Ilya Kabakov’s The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away 183 Joel Burges The Television and the Teapot: Obsolescence, All that Heaven Allows, and a Sense of Historical Time in Contemporary Life 201 Harvey O’Brien ‘Really? Worst film you ever saw. Well, my next one will be better’: Edward D. Wood Jr, Tim Burton and the Apotheosis of the Foresaken 221 Notes on Contributors 239 Index 243

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