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Beautiful Was te? DANA CHAN







A co ffe e cup here , a cand y wrapper there , do you e ver think that an abandone d co ffe e cup could s till be there in a fe w months’ time? A year?

We are clearly aware from a young age that trash belongs in the rubbish or recycling bin, there is evidence of this signposted around the city. Taking on the role of the flâneur, it is easy to see that straying waste is no longer an issue amongst the bustling streets of Wellington. Take a stroll down the back alleys however, and you will find a strong presence of graffiti and scattered pieces of abandoned everyday objects. To some this could be considered trash, but time has enabled nature to gradually break down these forgotten articles, integrating them into the urban environment.

To distinguish the line between rubbish and object, Parsons (2008) uses Thompson’s Rubbish Theory, to discuss how trash is defined when its value and life span reaches its limits. However, it is also through this object to trash process that allows trash to be “re-discovered, brought to light or cherished once again.” (Parsons, 2008 , p. 390) This idea of one man’s trash, another’s treasure is what inspired this photo essay of the graceful decay of urban trash, the objects have been so well unified with the environment that it is now a relic of the space. The idea of trash as art is no new notion. Vivan Sundaram, an artist in India used rubbish to make a

statement of the wastefulness of human habits by creating a 20x60 foot garbage city. Rubbish has not been limited to used in artistic sculptures though, it has also hit the fashion world, particularly the Wearable Arts, coining the term trashion. The objective behind these artistic pieces however, is to create awareness of using found objects and to promote sustainability, but what if rubbish was already beautiful in its decaying form? Rubbish is never completely removed; it may be gone from our sight but it still lingers. Whether through the reincarnation of recycling or sitting in the ground, it remains. Parsons (2008) discusses objects persistence to remain even after it is devoid of all function and value, “existing in a timeless and valueless limbo” (as cited in Thompson, 1979). The trash exists as a reminder of our past lifestyle and habits, no longer any use to us, but lingers on as part of the urban decay.

These are the traces left behind by people, so I leave i t for you to d e cid e , is i t simply rubbish or is there beauty in the d e cay?

co ffee cup., left in has te,

bad habi ts, d isgraced ,

what used to be a pick me up,

trod d en gum , all kicked up,

leaf, leaf, plas tic, chaos?

once a s ticke r is now par t moss,

Biblio graphy

Parsons, E. (2008). Thompsons Rubbish Theory: Exploring the Practices of Value Creation. European Advances in Consumer Research. Vol.8, pp390-393. Regis, N. (2008, Dec 7). Trash to treasure: artful gear with a conscience. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from database

Trashion Collective. (2012). Junk to Funk, Trasion Collective. Retrieved 2012, August 8 from Waxman, L. (2009, Sep 25). Trash, beautiful trash. Chicago Tribune, pp. 19-5.19. Retrieved from

Beautiful Waste  

Photo essay about urban waste, strewn accross Wellington city. Inspired by a long forgotten coffee cup, weathered and camouflaged by dirt an...

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