Trash Bags as Beautiful Works of Art


John Coltrane once said, “You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.” By that he meant a true artist can see art anywhere and be inspired by anything, including the trash bag. As we produce more garbage and expand our cities we’ll certainly being seeing a lot more of it. Thankfully some creative people are teaching us to see beauty in trash bags, both by using the ubiquitous black bag as a material in projects and redesigning the bag itself. Check out six of our favorites after the jump.

Berlin artist Nils Völker has created a wall of 108 supermarket bags controlled by a computer to create what he called One Hundred and Eight. Originally he was aiming to create a “screen” of bags. “I thought I could use it to display words or video. But it’s just 108 pixels,” he said. When asked whether the work was a critique of consumer culture, Nils responded, “There’s no message. I just think it’s very cool.” It sounds like the ocean to us.

New York Street artist Joshua Allen Harris is responsible for these garbage bag sculptures. He cuts out shapes from normal trash bags, tapes them to subway grates, and lets the air from the vents bring his creations to life. Harris is a member of the Wooster Collective.

In Tokyo — one of most dense cities in the world — the Garbage Bag Art Work project is trying to make trash beautiful, or at least less unsightly.

Adrian Kondratowicz has also redesigned the garbage bag, instead opting for a uniform pink polka-dotted to beautify the streets of New York City in a project called TRASH. Each bag is 100% biodegradable and naturally scented to repel insects and rodents. He’s since taken pleasure in spotting his bags all over, from an official photo of the Dalai Lama visiting Obama to the streets of the Netherlands. While it seems that the original pink bags are sold out, who can buy the new gold-on-white bags at their online store.

Matt Jones created “Bertrand, Air Whale” by fusing black trash bags together with iron rather than tape. As he describes the work: “It’ll be a ‘solar hot air balloon,’ flying when the sun heats up the air inside warmer than the surrounding air.”

Yael Mer & Shay Alkalay, two artists born in Tel-Aviv, have pursued a variety of projects through their studio, Raw-Edges. The duo graduated from London’s Royal College of Art in 2006. Around that time they designed the almost-too-cute-to-throw-away Bin Bag Bear — which is accompanied by the following story on their website:

A simple employee at the council rubbish disposal services had a peculiar imagination: he could see teddy bears in every object he observed. As a child he would stare at the clouds imagining that he could see teddy bears in the sky… and today…everywhere, even the black bin bags looked like teddy bears to him. No one at work could stand his excited cries every time he shouted ‘look at that bear…look at that one…don’t throw it into the garbage crusher… nooooo!..’ Of course he was fired from his job, lost his family and friends and became homeless. Yet even though many people thought he was strange, none of them would admit that they too saw the teddy bear bin bags dumped around the streets of London.