Talking Trash

Why your garbage should have its own paparazzo

the arts | visual arts |

By Brett Ascarelli

Without knowing anything about Tim Gaudreau, one can surmise a fairly accurate picture of the man simply by looking at his trash. Based on his discarded Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cartons, Stonyfield Farm yogurt cups and old hiking boots, this man is crunchy. He likely owns a cat (Scoop Away carton), is conversant with current technologies (computer monitor, CDs), gets lucky often enough (Trojan packages), is a yuppie (disposable coffee cup, Asian takeout carton, Snapple bottles) and is artsy (can of spray glue or paint). Contrary to how it may appear, we actually haven’t been digging into other people’s garbage to sniff out news. No, we were actually invited to look at this guy’s trash, and so are you.

It turns out that Tim Gaudreau isn’t just artsy; he’s actually a bona fide artist. His new work, “Self Portrait as Revealed by Trash: 365 Days of Photographing Everything That I Throw Out,” is on view at Gallery Route One March 23 through April 29. For this fragmented and indirect self portrait, he whittled over 5,000 photographs of all the individual items he tossed out from April 2004 to March 2005 down to a sampling of roughly 60 of the most representative objects. Besides bravely baring his personality through these photos, Gaudreau, a New Hampshire-based artist who believes that artistic work should be relevant to society, wants for his piece to communicate a green message above all.

“What are the consequences,” he asks, “to this American throwaway culture where, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind? I don’t think that we get away with it: we eat, drink and breathe these plastic cups long after the dump truck makes its weekly run.”

Over the course of documenting his trash, Gaudreau was so horrified by the number of bottles and cups he drank through every day (five), that he says “there came a point where I couldn’t bear to admit throwing out another one.” He started bringing his own mug to the coffee shop, mixing his own sports drinks and drinking tap instead of bottled water. He’s calculated that with these reforms, he’ll be saving over the course of his lifetime some 78,000 bottles from ever being manufactured and tossed.

“Self Portrait as Revealed by Trash” exhibits from Friday, March 23, at Gallery Route One, 11101 Hwy. 1, Point Reyes. See Openings for details. 415.663.1347.

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