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OED Definition
Pronunciation: /ˈrəbiSH/
Noun: waste material; refuse or litter; material that is considered unimportant or valueless; absurd, nonsensical, or worthless talk or ideas
Verb [with object] British informal: criticize severely and reject as worthless
Adjective British informal: very bad; worthless or useless
Origin: late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French rubbous; perhaps related to Old French robe ‘spoils’; compare with rubble. The change in the ending was due to association with -ish. The verb (1950s) was originally Australian and New Zealand slang

“After arriving to London for MA studies in 2010 I was overwhelmed by the huge amount of packaging materials consumed in everyday life. Some blue bottle caps were landing on the table and in a metropolis with enormous amount of waste generated everyday recycling some of them in the form of artwork started to feel almost like a moral obligation.” Inguna Gremzde in conversation with Alice Bradshaw, January 2013.

“The term rubbish is relative in the sense that, by its very definition, it is that which is considered worthless, and, based on that assumption, is rejected. The cliché ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ seems appropriate here and clichés are, after all, rooted in truths. At the same time it can be a humorous and disarming way of introducing your work to someone by describing it as rubbish! Do you sell your work? No. Why? Because its rubbish. It’s that kind of deadpan humour that I invoke with the titles of my work which  operate purely on the level of description by simply stating what they are. ” Louise Winter in conversation with Alice Bradshaw, December 2012.

“Rubbish is also a border separating the clean and useful from the unclean and dangerous.” – Heather Rogers, Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage.

“So long as identity is absent, rubbish is not dangerous. It does not even create ambiguous perceptions since it clearly belongs in a defined place, a rubbish heap of one kind or another.” Mary Douglas – Purity & Danger (1966) Routledge, London and New York. p.161.

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, 20
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.”
T.S.Eliot – The Waste Land, Part I: Burial of the Dead (1922)

“Words are the most uncertain signals severally devised by human beings for communication. Further, Zen, philosophy and literature etc. have driven them away to worthless rubbish.” – Kitasono Katué, A Note on Plastic Poetry (1966)

“In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place.” Oscar Wilde

“Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish! How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?” E. M. Forster

Marcel Duchamp – Fountain (1917)

Inguna Gremzde – Small World (2011). Painting. 277cm x 347cm (detail).

Kiss András – Gold rubbish heap (2009). Installation.

John O’Hare – Dumped (2012) Dumped was a project that involved participants of various professions, skills and talents that were invited to analyze, examine and interpret the unusual items of rubbish found deposited in people’s bicycle baskets in Cambridge.

Fran Crowe – A Present From… (2007) beach debris packaged as souvenirs

Hassan Hajajj – Rubbish Odalisque (2011). Digital image, 400x50cm.

Ian Stevenson – Rubbish Art (2005-2011). On going self-initiated project where the artist walks the streets bringing rubbish to life and making it talk back.

Kevin Harman – Big Bang (2012)

Louise Winter – rubbish pile and fan (2012). Installation, approx 50 x 50cm (dimensions variable).


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