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Would you like the receipt?
November 23, 2010, 7:04 am
Filed under: 4/5, Art, Food | Tags: , ,

Why isn’t anybody interested in the shopping bill in supermarkets? Yes, they are cramming the wallet – but just think of a journey, when all in the sudden, those bills can become a precious memory and people start saving them as if they were valuable souvenirs? If you lay out the bills of a month, you can combine the date, the time, the place, and the things bought with the things that happened around it. But the everyday memories are not of an interest? Particularly, other people’s shopping bills can inspire stories about their lives and offer clues about their way of life. A cashier sees all the things people from different backgrounds and ‘classes’ buy, which may, at times, be really private. Did you ever think about what kind of impression you make when putting your groceries on the conveyor?

The Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri is often using shopping bills in his art. Check this out:

Gabriel Kuri, Untitled, 2008, collage on paper, 29,5 x 26 cm

 

Gabriel Kuri, Mexican grocery receipts, tapestry, 2008, detail

 

Gabriel Kuri, s.a., at Art Basel Miami Beach

 

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What is waste?
November 22, 2010, 2:08 pm
Filed under: 5/5, Recycling, Theories | Tags: ,
Main Entry: waste
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: garbage, refuse
Synonyms: debris, dreck, dregs, dross, excess, hogwash, junk, leavings, leftovers, litter, offal, offscourings, rubbish, rubble, ruins, rummage, scrap, slop, sweepings, swill, trash
Main Entry: waste
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: spend or use without thought; dwindle
Synonyms: atrophy, be of no avail, blow, burn up, consume, corrode, crumble, debilitate, decay, decline, decrease, deplete, disable, disappear, dissipate, divert, drain, droop, eat away, ebb, emaciate, empty, enfeeble, exhaust, fade, fritter away, frivol away, gamble away, gnaw, go to waste, lavish, lose, misapply, misemploy, misuse, perish, pour down the drain, run dry, run through, sap, sink, splurge, squander, thin, throw away, trifle away, undermine, wane, wear, wear out, wilt, wither

Source: http://thesaurus.com/

‘Waste (also known as rubbish, trash, refuse, garbage, or junk) is unwanted or unusable materials. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly, particularly waste which has been carelessly disposed of in plain sight, as opposed to waste which has been dumped to avoid paying for waste disposal fees.’ (Source: Wikipedia)

‘Waste includes all items that people no longer have any use for, which they either intend to get rid of or have already discarded.’ (Eionet-European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production)

‘Wastes are substances or objects which are disposed or are intended to be disposed or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national laws.’ (according to the Basel convention)

‘Wastes are materials that are not prime products (that is products produced for the market) for which the generator has no further use in terms of his/her own purposes of production, transformation or consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose. Wastes may be generated during the extraction of raw materials, the processing of raw materials into intermediate and final products, the consumption of final products, and other human activities. Residuals recycled or reused at the place of generation are excluded.’ (The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD))

Who does waste belong to? When does something turn into waste? Is waste defined in its context or by its charasteristics? Would you eat waste? It is intruiging and apalling to realize that we use the same word as a verb meaning to spend or use something without thought and at the same time as a noun naming refused unwanted material. Amd would it be a contradiction to say: We are wasting waste (by wasting it and calling it waste)?



4/5 invitations

The invitations for the 4th event are ready and sent out to three people plus my tutor Cathérine. Antto and Salla will also pick three people of their choice for the event, so that we will have many new faces coming together. The 10 guests will first participate in making edible objects together with us in a mini-workshop and then, we will be joined by their avecs two hours later.

I am excited about our list of guests and the menu! It will be inspired by Finnish local handicraft, seasonal ingredients, popular objects, and traditional recipes, and be executed by the guests, Antto, Salla, and me.



A place for my stuff
November 20, 2010, 8:22 pm
Filed under: 4/5 | Tags: , , ,

George Carlin, who was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, author, and actor, raging about stuff. He is noted for often touching taboo topics of American culture and commenting on contemporary political issues. A good laugh! (And thanks Colby for the hint! :)



The gleaners
November 9, 2010, 12:42 pm
Filed under: 5/5, Food | Tags: , , , , , ,

The Gleaners. Jean-François Millet. 1857

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system. (Source: Wikipedia)

Agnès Verda’s documentary ‘Les glaneurs et la glaneuse’ (The gleaners and I/Elämä on kaunis in Finnish, which means: Life is beautiful!!), released in 2000 (more about the film here, and a preview of the movie can be found here), is about people, who collect thrown-away things, ranging from food over household articles to tools and furniture, with different motivations such as simply economical necessity, political and ethical protest against abundant consumerism and food production, and holistic life philosophy. As you might have already heard and seen in the documentary ‘Taste the Waste’, optically incorrect products are already sorted out before they even reach the market, left to rot on the fields. The same thing happens in the supermarkets- as soon as there is a brown spot on a banana, it goes to the dump, without even asking the customers if they are even keen on buying only perfectly sized, monosized, green bananas.

It is assumed that customers want shelves to be exploding with variety and a plethora of neverending products, even half an hour before closing time. This leads to an abundance of edible and still valuable food, turning all in the sudden into unwanted waste and being thrown away, even though the term ‘waste’ does not even do justice to the latter. One might think, that the employees could at least diminish small parts of the ‘waste’ for their own needs, but no: that would be theft and against the law. One might think then, well, the food that is still good and harmless to health could be distributed amongst the poor- but no, hygiene laws in Finland are so strict that even that is forbidden, and the ‘waste’ goes to the bin.

No wonder that a movement started to spread worldwide: dumpster-diving (in Finnish: dyykkaaminen). In 2002, YLE has screened a documentary about a community in Espoo, that only lives from discarded food and stuff found on dumpsters. You can watch it online here. The term literally means to dive for valuable goods in dumpsters. One might be disgusted by the pure thought of eating waste, but the edibles that can be found are usually in shockingly good state and can hardly be called waste.  Dumpster diving is rather about salvaging goods that are thrown away only because crazy hygiene laws, insane competition amongst shops, and distorted perspectives on the value of things call for it.

In Germany and the States one can find so-called foodbanks, charity organizations that collect unwanted supermarket and wholesale food and distribute it amongst the needy. The world’s first food bank is the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Arizona, called into life by John van Hengel in 1967. According to Wikipedia, similar concepts can also be found in other European countries such as Iceland (since the financial crisis), Austria, Spain, and Switzerland.

Here some interesting links:

http://dyykkarit.net/ (Finnish dumpster-diving website)

http://freegan.info/ (American site with many links to worldwide networks)

http://www.endhunger.org/gleaning_network.htm (American gleaning network)

http://www.berliner-tafel.de/(German Food Bank in Berlin)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_bank (About the history of food banks and their practice)



Taste the Waste
November 7, 2010, 1:01 pm
Filed under: 5/5, Bread, Food, Production, Recycling | Tags: , , , , ,

We throw away 50 % of the food that is produced. Yes, fifty percent! 500.000 tons of bread is thrown away yearly in Germany. Since bread has the same heating value as wood, we could spare one nuclear power plant if industry would make use of that fact. The food, that is thrown away in Europe, would be enough to feed the world’s starving population not only once, no, twice! For the production of the ‘trash bread’, an area of 200.000 hectar would be needed and as much greenhouse gases blown in the atmosphere as 300.000 cars would emit. A reduction of the trash to only half of its amount would mean a 10 % reduction of greenhouse gases – as if every second car would be erased from our streets. (Source: http://tastethewaste.com/media/file/ARD_Frisch_auf_den_Muell_PM.pdf)

Valentin Thurn’s recent documentary ‘Frisch auf den Müll- Die globale Lebensmittelverschwendung’ was shown Oct. 20 th 2010 on the German public TV channel Das Erste (at 11:30 pm – what kind of screening time is that for such a relevant interesting topic??). Anyway, thanks to the internet and livestreaming, you can watch the video in three parts on Youtube, unfortunately, it is only in German, but they are also going to screen English versions under the title ‘Taste the Waste’ internationally, if I understood right.

The movie has its own website in English and German, where you can find articles and more information and can also take action by spreading the word and uploading own articles and experiences.



ÄOM
November 6, 2010, 11:49 am
Filed under: 4/5, Art, Design, Projects for inspiration | Tags: , , , ,

ÄOM? What? Ah, Älä Osta Mitään, that’s what it stands for! Yes, Finland also has it, the infamous ‘Buy-Nothing-Day’. Introduced in 1992 by artist Ted Dave and promoted by the consume-critical Adbuster magazine, BND has been celebrated in by now 65 nations worldwide, typically on the Friday following North American Thanksgiving, and the following day internationally. This year, it will take place November 26th. Here a link to the Finnish website about the event, set up by Luonto-liitto ry. Public opinion about the event is divided, but I think it is a very fine occasion to reconsider shopping behaviours, not only for that one day, but in general and in a sustained way.

Which reminds me of a protest action done a few years ago in the busiest shopping street of Vienna, right before Christmas. :)