Skip to content


OED Definition
Pronunciation: /ˈgɑːbɪdʒ/
Noun [mass noun] chiefly North American: rubbish or waste, especially domestic refuse; worthless or meaningless material or ideas; unwanted data in a computer’s memory.
Origin: late Middle English (in the sense ‘offal’): from Anglo-Norman French, of unknown ultimate origin

“I use the word ‘garbage’ […] because I think it’s really recognizable to people. I think that’s what most people call their waste or their discards. That’s why I use it; it’s not a statement of my political or ideological stance on the issue of discards. A lot of people feel very strongly about choosing the right word, and I really respect where that comes from. I think that what we call the things we throw away is very important and it does relate to the way that what we throw out is constructed as dirty and not okay to touch or to consider as having value or being a resource.” Heather Rogers – Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage (2005) The New Press.

“A Dump: The whole world, everything which surrounds me here, is to me a boundless dump with no ends or borders, an inexhaustible, diverse sea of garbage. This whole dump is full of twinkling stars, reflections and fragments of cultures.” […] A dump not only devours everything, preserving forever, but one might say it continually generates something: this is where some kind of shoots come from for new project, ideas, a certain enthusiasm arises, hopes for rebirth of something, though it is well-known that all of this will be covered with new layers of garbage.” Ilya Kabakov – Documents of Contemporary Art: The Archive (2006) p.32/37

“Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.” Guy Debord – Formula for a New City, The Incomplete Works of the Situationist International, ed. Christopher Gray (1974)

“A newspaper that you’re not reading can be used for anything; and the same people didn’t think it was immoral to wrap their garbage in newspaper.” Robert Rauschenberg in interview with by Dorothy Seckler, Archives of American Art (1965)

Justin Gignac – NYC Garbage (2001-present)

Ceal Floyer – Garbage Bag (1996) garbage bag, air and twist tie, dimensions variable

Yodogawa Technique (Hideaki Shibata and Kazuya Matsunaga) – Garbage from Yodogawa (2005)

Matthew Jensen – Park Garbage (2010) found objects, dimensions variable

Gordon Matta-Clark – Opening with Garbage Wall (1970)

Christian Brändle & Angeli Sachs (curators) – Plastic Garbage Project: The Plastic Flotsam Installation at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich (2009)

Martin Kippenberger – Heavy Burschi (Heavy Guy) 1989/90


HA Schult – Beach Garbage Hotel (2010)

Al Wadzinski – Trail of Beers (2010)

Tomás Saraceno – Museo aero solar (2007) reused plastic bags

Wang Zhiyuan – Thrown to the Wind (2010)

Mike Kelley – Garbage Drawing #59 (from ‘Seventy-Four Garbage Drawings and One Bush’) (1988)

Mike Kelley – Memory Ware Flat # 35 (2003) mixed media on panel, 132.5 x 193.5cm
The title “Memory Ware” is a reference to the Canadian folk art practice in which common household objects such as bottles, picture frames, ashtrays and any variety of recycled trinkets are combined with sentimental keepsakes–buttons, beads, charms and pendant.

Ilya Kabakov – The Garbage Man (The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away) (1983-95). “The installation consists of three rooms that are reminiscent of a loft, where rubbish has been accumulating over many years. Gradually as one moves further into the installation, one notices that all of the trash is carefully catalogued and archived.” Ahnikee Østreng, The National Museum of Art, Design and Architecture, Norway.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: