As part of Humble Presence I have collected trash and debris, remnants from everyday life, from the 1923-1945 lot space, and other vacant lots in West Baltimore, around once a week. I’ve found many interesting objects, some of which I wouldn’t consider to be trash at all, but rather items with sentimental value that have been lost, left behind, or otherwise misplaced.
Trash is so central to human life, but mostly overlooked, and thrown away. It can act as a fingerprint to a community or a time capsule of an era. The types of trash and debris found may vary greatly from place to place depending on economic and cultural factors of the populations from which the trash accumulates. The objects that people “choose” to consume are often literal products of availability, affordability, and advertisements. I see the trash scattered across vacant lots as residue left by structures of power and domination as well as that of a crippled, centralized, waste removal system that continuously neglects neighborhoods that are already disenfranchised.
Although the objects I’ve collected had been discarded by their previous owners, I repurpose them to memorialize the day-to-day, adorning them with gold leaf, gold paint, and enclosing them in clear acrylic cases. Through these embellishments I hope to create value in the cycle of consumption, waste, and excess as well as find beauty in the leftovers of human interaction with their neighborhood.