GARBAGE IS NOT ART

 

Garbage. Smelly, gross, ugly garbage. Everybody hates it and wants it out of their sight. In the middle ages we threw it in the streets, but we have progressed. Well, somewhat. Because when the collection points are full we tend to leave our excess garbage besides the bins.

 

Leiden council has tried to change citizens’ behaviour, but kept using their usual nanny-like tone, so people stopped listening. On top of that, the council site is a mess, the rules are complicated and knowledge about peak times isn’t shared with the public.

 

While investigating the nuisance around the city, I come across streams of garbage spread across the street. Large patches of liquor bottles. Heaps of old furniture. It looks both horrible and intriguing at the same time. These could be pieces of contemporary conceptual art, except that I know that it isn’t. I realise this is the hook.

 

Instead of putting all our eggs in one basket, we reserved a small portion of the budget to open a temporary art gallery in the middle of the main street of Leiden, complete with ‘works’ inspired by the research.

 

The festive opening, with a unique presentation by two council aldermen (for culture and management), is used to maximize the PR potential. It offers the press a fun and different angle to report on this age-old story, generating tons of free publicity.