"Garbage Picker! The Contemporary Artist as Chiffonnier(e)" Exhibition

Affirmation Arts

poster for "Garbage Picker! The Contemporary Artist as Chiffonnier(e)" Exhibition

This event has ended.

Drawing on the concept of the 19th century Parisian chiffonnier(e), or ragpicker, Garbage Picker! explores the concept of today's artist as an artist-chiffonnier(e) - or one who attributes new aesthetic value to society's refuse-and draws conceptual parallels between capitalism at its nascence in the 19th century to our present Global and Post-Industrial period. Directly affected by the rise of commodity capitalism and the fluctuations caused by Hausmanization, the chiffonnier(e) earned a living by sorting through, reselling, and reusing the detritus of city life. As member of the independent working class, he or she was regarded by many as a practicing philosopher and one of the only truly liberated individuals of this period.

Like the chiffonnier(e), artists within our present society practice the same activities of collecting, organizing and transforming society's leftovers or waste into objects valued for their aesthetic and larger metaphorical content. As elements of "low" or mass consumer culture have entered into the domain of Modern artistic practice, the conceptual figure of the artist- chiffonnier(e) seems to have now become the new paragon of the artist. The practice of today's artist- chiffonnier(e) is particularly poignant in the early 21st century as the world faces imminent ecological crises, such as global warming, the depletion of natural resources, and post-consumer waste. Jinkee Choi personalizes these large-scale, world issues in his "Trash Portraits: You are What You Dump" series. In these works, garbage taken directly from a person's trash barrel is used to create his or her likeness as a three-dimensional portrait bust. Approximately one hundred years after the rise of capitalism, today's artist- chiffonnier(e) stands as a pertinent figure, linking the visual arts with the important economic and environmental changes that have taken place in recent decades.

Unlike the chiffonnier(e) who was considered a social outcast, today's artist-chiffonnier(e)s are heavily involved in the marketing and promoting of their work. Similarly to Baudelaire's 19th century concept of the artist- flâneur, today's artist- chiffonnier(e) observes the ironic, ambiguous, and dehumanizing aspects of Postmodernity and transfers these qualities into objects assigned with a new aesthetic value.

Curated by Amy Brandt.



from July 18, 2008 to August 29, 2008
Opening Reception: July 17, 6-8 pm.

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