Disposable art in times of overabundance and waste.

World society is in sore need of more creativity, and the influx of aspiring artists, authors, musicians, filmmakers etc. with both professional and hobby aspirations is a good thing. Right?!! Of course it is, but …

What do we do with all that art, with all the books that are discarded or never sold, with libraries and bookstores that no longer have physical shelves to accommodate old and new books, with old lp’s, cassette tapes and cd’s? And shouldn’t art also sometimes make a statement about the overabundance and waste that characterises today’s world society, and the challenges it presents in terms of waste management, pollution, and the driving down of prices and the value of new art, writing and music? Sure, great for the consumers that prices are ridiculously low now for music, books, art etc., but surely that only breeds more and more “fast art” and copies being pumped out in order to increase income. And then, of course, more waste.

The disposable art movement is not dead, even though it is not as “trendy” as it was several years ago. Disposable art, and art that incorporates disposable, used and found objects has been around for awhile. One famous example is Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (1917), a urinal (signed R. Mutt). READ HERE!

Today, Cheeming Boey’s disposable coffee cup art is all the rage: READ HERE!

Even so, many are skeptical to disposable art and to art which has no real lasting commercial value. Some want art that is “permanent” and that can be sold later at a huge profit, and others have aesthetic objections. Here is an article by Andrew O’Hagan entitled “Losing patience with disposable art”.

And then there is the work of fine art photographer Jerry Takigawa, who uses disposed objects in his exhibitions to contemplate our disposable society: SEE HERE!

Not all art needs to be “high art”, and certainly not all disposable art or found object art. Not all art needs to last a hundred years or more, either. It is my philosophy that art should eventually be recirculated, moved around in our living and working environments, sold, loaned out, exchanged for new works that help to enrich and enliven ourselves and our environments in new ways etc. That headset requires a different approach to the “value and function” of art.

The comments of some who dislike such art, eg. “I could have done that.” Or “My child could have done that!” are as “disposable” as the art itself. The point being that they did not do it, they did not come up with the idea or execute it. Art is largely conceptual. If an artwork helps you to question the value and function of art, life or the state of the world, then it is highly successful.

I have made artworks involving painted pieces of concrete, painted pieces of driftwood, plastic, weather-worn discarded pieces of styrofoam, and more. Here are a few of my own disposable art pieces / pieces made from disposed of and found objects:

Stone fragment. Oil painting on styrofoam (disposable art).
Stone fragment. Oil painting on styrofoam (disposable art).
Stop the genocide! (Oil on linen).
Stop the genocide! (Oil on linen napkin that resembles nazi prison uniform cloth).


(photography of found semi-deflated balloons hanging on tree.)


“Hands”, 30×30 cm., oil and charcoal on cardboard, 2017. “Hands”: Disposable art – fighting against the wear and tear of age, physicality, and the urges to hold on vs. to eventually let go.



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