Skip to content

Robin Collyer David Ross Lisa Rochon Susan Coolen


Trash—the emptied out, the used up, the broken, the outgrown, the obsolete; the dispossessed, the lost, the left behind. In Trash, writers, artists, and filmmakers look at how we are defined by what we waste and discover that we are what we throw away. Trash surveys a terrain that ranges from micro (a typology of dust bunnies) to macro (studies of landfill design and the trashed space of urban brownfield sites). It investigates the logic of trash as it is applied to humans and looks at lives intimately dependent on trash, taking us from the abducted girls of Juarez to the recycling communities of China.

“Trash contributors attempt to find the beauty in castoff items, either as testaments of the ingenuity of human life or as remnants of our once-great civilization.”
—Baltimore City Paper


Introduction to ‘Trash’

By John Knechtel

We are embedded in our trash—there is no easy way to leap beyond it and build a utopia without garbage, to address the contradiction between the world’s limited resources and our seemingly unlimited ability to manufacture trash. Its production is rooted in survival, represented in every culture, and magnified by economic success.

Select features from ‘Trash’

The Ethical Artifact: On Trash

By Barry Allen
Image by Susana Reisman

The most impressive thing about our trash is how well made it is. A plastic...


Uncle Fernando’s Garbage Triptych

By Priscila Uppal
Image by Ilona Staples

When you’re angry with someone,



By Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Image by Robin Collyer

Hahaha, he laughs, the bald boy, veteran ragpicker who’s sitting on a pile of junk,...


Utopia Gleaners

By Tina Kendall
Image by Edward Burtynsky

On April 22, 2001, the streets of Buffalo, New York, were taken over by a...