ARIANNA RICHARDSON (THE HOBBYIST)
“Garbage Party” was an interactive installation and performance art project that was installed in two public parks for a duration of one week each, paired with a twelve-day performance of daily site-visits by my performance persona, “The Hobbyist.” This project asked the public to consider their relationship with waste and recycling, presenting a playful and absurd site in which to engage in conversations about our consumer society and the impact of the waste it generates.
The installation component of this project consisted of a gigantic, ten-foot-long, absurdly over-decorated, re-imagined version of waste infrastructure that was installed outdoors. Visitors were encouraged to engage with it as its physical form suggests: as a functioning garbage bin, made strange by its multiple compartments requesting nine different categories of waste. My performances as “The Hobbyist” were framed as daily site visits that lasted for two hours each day for twelve of the fourteen days of the installation. During these visits I would perform maintenance on-site, collecting and documenting trash, as well as engaging with passersby in discussions about the project and themes of environmental stewardship and activism. I developed a set of short survey questions to gather data about how people perceived their contribution to waste and recycling in Lethbridge and their perception(s) of the global climate crisis and the efficacy of current infrastructure systems.
I conducted 37 surveys in total, interacting with approximately 60 people during the project. When picking up trash I recorded the number, color, material, and category of each item, noting the day and time of collection so that I could make sense of the information after the completion of the project. Over the two week period, I picked up 5,037 individual pieces of trash, much of it under two inches, the majority of it plastic-based.
The trash and survey data that I collected was compiled into visualizations that function as a non-photographic record of the performance, as well as concrete information that can be compared and contrasted to determine differences and similarities among other locations where the project will be performed.
The purpose of this piece was to make the act of throwing away conspicuous: to re-frame the usually automatic, unconscious act of disposing trash to prompt participants and passersby to re-examine their role within waste production and waste management systems.