Still Life with Trash
Proving that one man’s trash is another man’s limited-edition silk-screen print, Dan Ibarra and Michael Byzewski, of the Minneapolis-based studio Aesthetic Apparatus, are putting a new spin on up-cycling.
Seeking inspiration for a workshop, the duo, revered creators of band posters and brand identities alike, began collecting trash along Minneapolis’s Midtown Greenway, a 5.5-mile bicycle and pedestrian path. Ibarra and Byzewski took the litter they gathered—plastic shopping bags, public-transit transfer cards, and foil chip pouches—and created collages that they subsequently silk-screened.
One piece from the ongoing project, titled “Greenway Clean-up Collection Collage” (above), juxtaposes the remains of a crumpled Marlboro cigarette pack with frayed candy wrappers. In its forensic, slightly abstracted framing of packaging detritus, the piece feels like an homage to Pop Art.
On a practical level, the project raises awareness about litter while simultaneously reducing trash in the Greenway. And sales of the limited-edition prints benefit the Midtown Greenway Coalition, an advocacy organization that helped to build the path.
For Aesthetic Apparatus, the project is a variation on a longstanding interest. “We do a lot of collage and found images in our screen prints, and have for a long time,” Ibarra says. “But we’re always rebuilding those images into something new. Here, we like the idea that we are taking this trash and creating new compositions and juxtapositions, but the trash still retains its trashiness.”