Many contemporary artists—such as Huang Xu, Vik Muniz, and Mandy Barker—emphasize the recycling of trash from an eyesore into something aesthetic. My interest, however, is to impose the stress of trash on nature. People throw trash into bushes and onto grass without harboring guilt. My goal for this series of artwork is to bring awareness to the trash that is burdened onto the part of our environment that supplements our living (i.e. nature).
Sweep the Hooch 2015 is a multi-site cleanup of the Chattahoochee River. This year, over 500 volunteers worked to pick up a total of over seven tons of trash from the Chattahoochee River and its surrounding areas.
I have interrupted the move from river to landfill by taking two bags of trash from Sweep the Hooch into the photographic studio environment. I have photographed each piece of trash in a way that emphasizes beauty; thus, the trash is taken out of the context of its harm and into the context of commercialism. In pinning these smaller prints of trash onto the mural print of the Chattahoochee River, the viewer interacts with the trash before nature. The trash completely overwhelms the natural landscape. This confines the viewer to dealing with the trash that is produced faster than can be destroyed.
To accompany this piece, trash is piled up in front of the Chattahoochee River, infiltrating its beauty.
And finally, to take the context outside of the Chattahoochee River, I have catalogued a series of pieces of trash I have seen on my daily walk to the train station.
Teal Gordon, April 2015
“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
― Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House