The Rubbish Collection

What does one month’s worth of ‘rubbish’ from one institution look like? Artist Joshua Sofaer aims to find out with his Rubbish Collection project at London’s Science Museum.

The Rubbish Collection

Source: © Science Museum

The Rubbish Collection

The exhibition will see visitors invited to help sort through and document 30 days’ worth of refuse generated by the museum’s staff, contractors and visitors.

The rubbish will be diverted through an exhibition space and photographed by Sofaer, before being processed for recycling or used to generate electricity.

For the exhibition’s second stage, Sofaer will bring the rubbish back to the museum at different stages of processing, to look at issues around sustainability and reuse.

The Rubbish Collection

Source: © Science Museum

The Rubbish Collection

Sofaer says, ‘Museums generally display items that have some special status, that are rare or valuable. But in this project, I want to give “museum treatment” to the stuff it would normally throw away.’

The exhibition has been designed by NORD, which has created a ‘functional, utilitarian’ space, which will host both stages of the project.

A central stainless-steel table used to sort rubbish in stage one can be flipped over to form a display tray for stage two.

CGI showing NORD's exhibition design
CGI showing NORD’s exhibition design

NORD London director Graeme Williamson says, ‘We wanted to create something that wouldn’t fight with Joshua’s process. We focused on the idea of creating a utilitarian space where visitors could sort on a stainless-steel table under the glare of strip lights.’

Sarah Harvey, project curator for the Rubbish Collection, says, ‘The notion of Science Museum visitors sorting through the Museum’s rubbish is in many ways quite absurd but Sofaer is playing with the conventions of what we do as a museum – our role of collecting, researching and exhibiting precious and important objects – and exposing the intrinsic value and importance of “rubbish” in a creative and unexpected way.’

CGI showing NORD's exhibition design
CGI showing NORD’s exhibition design

The Rubbish Collection is at the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7, from 16 June-14 September.

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