Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part Two)

Kapitel 4

One of the earliest experimenters with junk art was Kurt Schwitter. 

“I don't see why one shouldn't use in a picture, just as one uses colours made by the paint merchants, things like old tram and train tickets, scraps of driftwood, cloakroom tickets, ends of string, bicycle wheel spokes – in a word all the old rubbish which you find in dustbins or on a refuse dump… Inventing merz in 1919, he observed: The word merz denotes essentially the combination, for artistic purposes, of all conceivable materials, and, technically, the principle of the equal distribution of the individual materials .... A perambulator wheel, wire-netting, string and cotton wool are factors having equal rights with paint ... [The word derives from kommerz which appeared in an early assemblage, Merzbild 1919. See Elderfield, John, Kurt Schwitters (London, 1985)]” (Whiteley 964-970)

“Schwitters employed ephemeral materials and found objects in these environmental assemblages, including bits of wood and metal, children's toys, old plaster casts, dried flowers, animal horns, newspaper cuttings and rags. The Hannover Merzbau, which occupied him for over 15 years, grew organically from a single phallic column to a series of free-standing structures which, eventually, became a chaotic but continuous ‘cavernous maze' of junk. A number of distinct grottoes emerged including the ‘Goethe Grotto', the ‘Lavatory Attendant of Life' and the ‘Sex-Murder Cave'. The ‘Grotto of Great Love' was one of the largest, forming part of the column known as ‘The Cathedral of Erotic Misery'. Schwitters' scatological choice of objects in some of these grottoes – samples of urine and shit, nail clippings, locks of hair – opens the Merzbau … to Freudian readings of fetishistic and coprophilic pleasure.” (Whiteley, 976-987)
Artists continue to tinker with junk for art. In downtown London Ganter Wolfgang and Aune Kaj exhibited an installation of trash a few years ago. The centre of London, the eastern end of London City, the financial district of all places, contains one of the more expansive “exhibition grounds” for street art. If art, like lit, should engage in an indirect dialogue with defining aspects of the present and if one such characteristic of our lives is polariзация, then there could hardly be more appropriate exhibition grounds than East End London with the contrasts of wealth and street art alongside artistic installations of trash. Вот we have polarization par excellenz: the ratty creative painting the wall and the equities day trader walking home to his skyscraper in a suit.
Now we obviously don’t consider street art trash here, but in New York you’ll be arrested and fined faster for street art, heck even for taping an 8”x11” piece of paper offering services to a lamppost (I saw it!) than you will for tossing a wrapper on the sidewalk. By some standards graffiti is evidently real! Trash. London City embraces this contrast of finance and street art – masters of the universe and scrappy international renegades and revolutionaries – even it if is largely by ignoring what might be a crime on the books. The age is polarized. It’s no secret that the gulf between the elite and the rest continues to gap higher, but you can try to hide it, ignore it or allow the different groups to express themselves. London even allows the artists their freedom to produce. And the artists accept the lunacy of producing in a neighborhood that borders on luxury high rises and will soon be engulfed by professionals in finance. 

Chapter 5

In a paper on contemporary art Nicole Kaczmar wrote: “Die zeitgenössische Kunst hat sich durch ihr Entgrenzungsstreben von bestehenden Moralvorstellungen, gesellschaftlichen Konventionen, politischen Programmen und religiösen Einstellungen befreien können... Durch die Verschmelzung mit anderen Kunstdisziplinien wird die Möglichkeit an unterschiedlichen Formen und Strategien erweitert. Dies führt zu einer derartigen Radikalisierung, so dass sich die moderne Kunst immer wieder selbst überbot. Das Infragestellen des Kunstbegriffs, das Verschwimmen von Kunst und Nicht-Kunst und das Spiel mit den Grenzen kann als Form philosophischen Erkenntisstrebens gedeutet werden mit dem Ziel sowohl der Wahrheitsfindung als auch der eigenen Existenzwerung“. (Kaczmar 15) 

Contemporary art has been able to liberate itself from existing conceptions of morality, social conventions, political programs and religious mindsets by seeking to go beyong the limits… By merging with other artistic disciplines, it expands the range of distinct forms and strategies. This leads to such a radicalization that modern art repeatedly outdoes itself. The questioning of the term art, the dissolving of the border between art and non-art, and playing with limits can be construed as a form of philosophical search for knowledge with the goal of finding the truth and coming into its own (Existenzwerdung)
Much of the Brick Lane in Лондоне has been painted. Walls and entrances to buildings show us an English way into the art of scrap collage. It’s like a reverse museum: when you enter the “lobby” you are leaving the exhibition. It’s a grand exit from the street of романтического art to the home of life, probably also teeming with rubbish you call Besitz-belongings. As Russian writer Andre Dmitriev wrote in Voskoboev and Elizaveta, they “arrived with a heap of junk they’d been dragging around from one unfamiliar corner to another for five years.  Eventually, they assumed they’d get rid of all these stools, bedside tables and pillowcases, replacing them with something substantial, not embarrassing. And as for new serious junk, the newcomers acquired a ‘Matilda’ sideboard shipped in a container from Leningrad and a ‘Madonna’ set that an old buddy from Wunsdorf sent as a housewarming gift.” (Dmitriev, 2009)

If you cross the border творчеством или жизнью, it reveals absence in your previous state and in the state of others. If you have been to Thaiланд and I have not, you are aware of something that I do not know. You are aware of some absence in my knowledge and your previous knowledge. When an artist pushes the boundaries of Gegenwarts-convention and produces a work of art in the realm of beyond, he or she attempts to relate that knowledge to an audience lacking such an experience. It is like you telling me about your trip to Thailand. If we analyзуем the emblem we are presenting to you, it is possible to see something similar. We perceive our Umgebung, обстановку, surroundings through a comparison of German, Russian, American and English culture. Whether or not you have exposure to these cultures, we propose that our view of trash in a переносном und direct sense can convey knowledge that might not be accessible to you or, if it is zugänglich, may not be perceived due to a фокус on other aspects of being (that we wiederum may well be unaware of). In a constantly updated and expanded эмблем, your experiences can be integrated, gegenübergestellt, сопоставлены, drawing attention to other angles, perspeктивы, orientaзии, стороны, etc.
Typical of absence, if you don’t think about it, you won’t notice it. This is a strange aspect of experience and Kompetenz. You are komplett ignorant of the presence of absence as a young wo-man, then underestimate it and only come to realize it after about ten years in one field. Seventeen years seems to represent another Punkt. Sometimes the sole way you know something is by the oddity of its absence in a certain context that subsequently allows a degree of freedom that would not exist if the absence were replaced by being da. You might think of a unique word or sentence structure in one language that is far less common in another. For example, “unter Berücksichtigung der…” in German (relative to English) or “I have…” in English (relative to Russian).

Главасhapter 6
“Ellen got out of the car and walked east along the desolate empty pavements of 105th Street. A fetor of mattresses and sleep seeped out from the blocks of narrow-windowed houses. Along the gutters garbagecans stank sourly.” (Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer, 130)…
Each country’s trash smells a little different. Here it is impossible to make any generalization. I, an American, find that Russian and American trash in large receptacles or cans on the street smells terrible. Do the building owners need to spray down the container? Is the lack of cleaning them the reason these receptacles and the trash in them smell worse than comparable trash in Germany? One intelligeнтная thing we do in Москве and Saint-Petersburg is we place the containers in the back courtyard so you don’t have the mountains of trash on the street as we do in New York. The problem is that trash collection is erratic so the dumpsters are often overflowing. This does not happen in Munich. Is it again the idea that everything has its Platz? When I speak Deutsch, I use some slightly different Muskeln and stimulate different nerves. If I were born in Deutschland and only spoke Deutsch, would I think in Kategorien? Would every Objekt, including trash, have its Platz? If Amerikaner or Russen spoke German, would they place their trash in nice, washed-out bins that can be rolled onto the street for disposal in trucks that automatically lift them? Would the system be better than what I saw in Manhattan (oder man hat ihn nicht) a couple years ago?
It was a beautiful windy day in late autumn. The garbage truck stopped at a building on 92nd street in Manhattan. A large paper bin, in the German style, was rolled onto the street and hooked up to the hoists. I stood transfixed. I had not even been aware of such a system in New York. The enormous bin gradually rose up over the cab of the truck, high into the sky, slowing, moving into position over the middle, beginning to turn. It’s half the size of a dumpster full of paper turning over roughly 20 feet up in the air on a windy day. As the sheets slide out, the wind picks up and blows them over the truck walls, onto the cars and all over the street and sidewalks – at least there are porters in the buildings there.

(Part III to follow)


Text – Henry Whittlesey
Photos (Part I) – 1. Konstantin Semenov. 2. Yegor Larin. 3. Paha_L. 4, 5, 6. Lea Winkler. 7. Paul Prescott. 8. Mykyta Starychenko. 9. Yuryz. (Part II) 10. Wendy Leber (Frieze Contemporary Art Fair London). 11. Filippo Romeo (Barracks). 12. Rechitan Sorin (Pet bottles background). 13. Koen Douterloigne. 14. Nicola Ferrari (Wall covered in graffiti and wallpaper murals). 15. Jon Bilous (In the Graffiti Alley, Baltimore, Maryland). 16. Robert Paul Van Beets (Big pile of waste garbage). 17. Smeshinka (Kirov, Russia – Circa May 2013: Trash cans overflow with garbage). 18. Arenaphotouk (Rubbish bins, Liverpool.)
Web design – Koen Douterloigne
All photoshopping done by Peripatetic Media; please see photographers for originals.

Works cited (in part I and II)

Clark, Leilani. “Zero-waste bloggers: the millennials who can fit a year’s worth of trash in a jar,” The Guardian. April 22, 2016. Online
Dmitriev, Andrey. Voskoboev and Elizaveta. Transl. by Henry Whittlesey. Arch Literary Journal. 2009. No longer available.
Достоевский, Федор [Dostoevsky, Fyodor]. Петербургская летопись [Chronical of Summer in Saint-Petersburg]. 1847. Online.
Dos Passos, John. Manhattan Transfer. New York: Mariner Books, 2003.
Kaczmar, Nicole. Entrgenzung in der Gegenwartskunst erörtert am Beispiel der Installation und Performance. Wissenschaftliche Arbeit (unveröffentlicht). Lüdwig Maximilian University of Munich. September 15, 2015.
Moser, Walter. “Garbage and Recycling: From Literary Theme to Mode of Production,” Other Voices: The eJournal of Cultural Criticism. Volume 3, No. 1. May 2007. Online.
Nagel, Robin. Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.
Whiteley, Gillian. Junk: Art and the Politics of Trash. I.B.Tauris. Kindle Edition. November 30, 2010.

Related blog posts
Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part I). August 2016.
Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Changes to transposing emblems. Nov. 2015

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Excerpt of new emblem transpoзиция on trash. Sept. 2015 
Whittlesey, Henry. Forward to next emblem transpoзиция. January 2016

See for more emblems. 

Post a Comment