Hi. Big sis here (Rania 颖宜). Few weeks ago I wrapped up a four-month residency at Recology SF. I was based at the San Francisco city dump, at a residency that has been running for over 30 years. I am so pleased to be part of this legacy! Here’s the official word about this program:
“The Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence (AIR) Program is an art and education initiative that awards Bay Area artists access to discarded materials, an unrestricted stipend, and an individual studio space. These resources, along with comprehensive support, are provided to artists while they create a body of work and host studio visits during their four-month residency.“https://www.recology.com/recology-san-francisco/artist-in-residence-program/
That text does not come close to describing this life-altering experience. I have been overwhelmed, aghast, heartbroken, speechless (Thus, unable to know how and what to post. Sorry for the delay.) For four months I had unfettered access to the Public Re-use and Recycling Area (PRRA) at the Recology Recycling and Transfer Center, where the public is dumping larger items. The whole experience is shocking and mind-blowing. Not only is it appalling to witness the sheer wastefulness of a society casting off so many perfectly good items, it is also profound to realize that due to whatever circumstances, the owners of many perfectly good items are not coming back for them. Contemplating death was a daily occurrence. Staring down a huge pile of trash, I could see the end of the line for people and things. Everything jumbled together, tangled and broken; piles of chaos, things cut short in mid-sentence.
From afar the trash pile looks like a blur, but up close, things get interesting. There is SO much information flowing through that space. This is probably what triggers the intense sensation of being overwhelmed. Multiple meanings coming from all directions; it is an assault on all the senses. There is so much to be gleaned not only by the things, but also by watching and noticing people as they throw away the things. Their body language and the way they relate to the objects being thrown; our various complex relationships in the world fully manifested in this act of discarding. I was elated, flabbergasted and shocked on a daily basis; a four-month long emotional roller-coaster. I am exhausted.
The images shown here are of my final exhibition at the Recology Artist in Residence Program. The photos really do not do justice to the pure chaos that it grew out of.
The show, “503 Social Club,” was an exhibition envisioned as an immersive installation, a conceptual anamorphic image where all the people, ideas and things fall into place when viewed just so. The work swirled around a theme of convergence of people and things with their varied histories, travels and migrations. There were two big studios that I had the pleasure to fill. The first room featured a sprung dance floor made of scrap wood and full sound system with three crates of LPs. (Let me repeat: EVERYTHING was scavenged. Everything more or less worked when I plugged it in). I built a working fountain and a sauna (although I was not allowed to use the sauna for Covid health and safety reasons.) I made some works on canvas. Some collage pieces, embroidered a few chairs and a sun shade. I had the MOST INCREDIBLE time.
There are SO MANY PEOPLE to thank for this amazing experience.
BIG FAT SLOPPY Thank you to the Recology AIR Team: Deborah Munk, Ailsa Harju, and Ximaps Dong.
Special thanks to those who helped make the exhibition and event possible: Mike Arcega, Winifred Ho, Brad Fogo, Denise Ho, Isabel Hofogo, Pia Hofogo, Todd Nakagawa, Mansur Nurulla, Chloe Schoenfeld, Eloise Schoenfeld, Chau Smith, Michael Smith, Pearl Wong, Pei Yu, Suz Takeda. Also gratitude to Jana Haritatos and Kong Loh for the use of the GoPro. It came in handy!
Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone at Transfer Station at Recology. My time there was so precious. Big shout out to these PRRA folks in particular:
Albert, Francisco (Front loader), Francisco (Haz Waste), Jamal, Jose, Michelle, Ming, Nelson, Waheb, and Sam.
I can’t thank you all enough. You are the best!
I so miss the daily scavenging. It helped to put the (often) ugly world in a larger perspective. I would regularly just stand in the PRRA, as the trash was getting dropped off, bulldozed into massive piles and hauled away in trucks and just allow all the noise, smells visual information to flow over and around me in a Zen-like moment, just taking it all in. Extraordinary. Mind-blowing. Transcendental.
Enjoy these images of the works. I will upload more pics of the incredible process and the amazing opening event in another post (after I get the ok from folks in the photos).