The Scrapstore just visited the last days of a fantastic exhibition at the Science Museum. Artist Joshua Sofaer who has an ongoing interest in what we throw away examined 30 days of Science Museum waste (stuff that was put into general waste by visitors, staff and contractors). His art installation had two phases - firstly where he engaged the audience in collecting, sorting, photographing and documenting the waste and the second phase - after the junk has been processed ready for re-use or recycling - where he displayed the stuff in fascinating and surprising ways. The whole installation was made up of processed rubbish ready for recycling and 'rescued' items ready for re-use or fixing up.
Junk displayed as art ranged from: a fridge full of discarded electrical items, canisters of biodiesel produced from cooking oil from the Science Museum cafes, sacks of beautiful jazz flakes (material made from plastic bottles and lids to be recycled into pipes, buckets, bricks), pretty scraps of packaging labels to be used for making plastic bags, aluminum can bales to be made into new cans and huge 'white-liner' reels which are recycled paper and card to be used for making cardboard boxes and construction boards.
The exhibition challenges our perceptions about what is valuable in a museum - it assigns the junk a special status, making it into art whilst at the same time raising awareness about how thoughtless we can be about what we throw away when it could be recycled or reused.
We counted 16 pairs of shoes which were put into the bin, a great deal of still-functioning stationery, half-full toiletries, brand new clean paper cups and hundreds of sets of plastic cutlery.
The Scrapstore has been lucky to be offered the discarded plastic cutlery which would otherwise have been thrown away! Thank you very much Science Museum.
Unfortunately the exhibition has now closed, but you can read more about it in from its creator, Joshua Sofaer, here.