These Toronto solid waste artists want you to take a closer look at your trash
Meet Sean Martindale and J.P. King: a pair of artists working to help shine a light on Toronto's waste habits in a way it's never seen before and help the city meet its goal of diverting at least 70 per cent of waste from landfills.
It's smelly work — for a cause
CBC News ·
They're the first ever artists-in-residence for Toronto's solid waste service and they're putting the city's trash into sharp focus.
Meet Sean Martindale and JP King: they're working to help shine a light on Toronto's waste habits in a way it's never seen before and help the city meet its goal of diverting at least 70 per cent of waste from landfills.
Creating the artwork for their exhibition, Our Desires Fail Us, on at the Harbourfront Centre until mid-September, involved visiting some of the city's most pungent-smelling sites, a process Martindale says gave him "olfactory flashbacks for weeks."
"The facility that manages all of our green bins has got to be hands down the most most disgusting place I've ever been. Just these giant mountains of poopy bags and oozing liquid and just the most rancid smell, maggots crawling all over things," King told CBC Radio's Here and Now.
It's smelly work — for a cause.
The pair use what they describe a bait-and-switch technique to draw the audience in — and then be forced to confront the sheer scale of the city's waste production.
"We've taken a photograph and then used a mirroring technique to flip it on either side and what that does is it brings out this symmetry and pattern in the image. It starts to look almost like an inkblot or Rorschach psychology test and in it people start to see faces or architecture," King said.
"We show you something enticing and beautiful that draws you in and then as you spend time with it … you realize that it's totally disgusting."
The hope, say King and Martindale, is for the city to better understand its relationship with waste.
"It's something that's very hidden normally in our society. Once we throw something out, once it leaves our hands, it's out of sight, out of mind," Martindale said. "But it is something that we need to confront if there's going to be any change."