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Bianco Trash, Garbage As Art

Natasha Lardera (June 26, 2012)
Roman artist and photographer Luca Pizzaroni visits a garbage dump in New Jersey and captures with his lens discarded plastic bags, newspapers and boxes that form rolling hills of waste.

He was born in Rome but he lives and works in New York. He has exhibited both in New York and abroad including shows at KunstWerke in Berlin, The Katonah Museum of Art and the Cartier Foundation in Paris. He is the recipient of a residency at American Apparel and of a grant from the Italian Cultural Institute of New York. His film and video career has included directorial work for both Elton John and Bryan Adams. In collaboration with Florian Böhm and Wolfgang Scheppe, he produced ENDCOMMERCIAL®, a definitive catalog of his visual, urban studies. 

His name is Luca Pizzaroni and his latest project is now on view at Fred Torres Collaborations (527 West 29th Street in Chelsea) until July 27. Bianco Trash is the artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery, and it features 8 photographs of garbage-dump trash, over15 acrylic paintings on black garbage bags, and an installation by the artist. 

“The sweet singing of garbage trucks constantly working every night, the intense squealing of rats enjoying a good leftover meal, the colors of flying plastic bags in a super noisy New York City street, are just some of the inspirations that I collect to create my paintings and pictures,” the artist declared and added that he was curious to see where all the trash we produce ends up.

“Americans make more trash than anyone else on the planet, throwing away about 7 pounds per person per day, 365 days a year. Trash has become the most valuable goods to export, which then is sold back to us as products waiting to be trashed again. We are each on track to generate around 100 tons of trash across our lifetime; our American Dream is definitely linked to this accumulation of trash,” Pizzaroni explained, “My trips to the landfill in Middlesex County, New Jersey made me understand that when there is traffic of garbage trucks going to the landfill it is a sign of people buying - trash is a way to understand our economy.”

“Bianco Trash investigates American consumption, international commerce, and environmentalism. This new body of work continues Pizzaroni’s inquiry into the American culture of consumption, which began with several series based on his experiences working in the fashion world. The artist has been fascinated with American culture, particularly film, since he was a child watching American movies, and then later working on the sets of CineCittá. Pizzaroni approaches his interest in American culture from the viewpoint of an immigrant – ultimately trying to deconstruct the American Dream visually. Featured in the exhibition are recent photographs the artist made of the landfills of New Jersey, just outside of New York City. Wandering through the trash, Pizzaroni documented the result of American consumption, bringing to the forefront the cycle wherein consumers buy cheap disposable goods, largely imported from Asia, which end up as waste, only to purchase more that is thrown away.” The photograph Thank You For Shopping (which features a white plastic bag with the sentence written in red) serves not only as a reminder of the waste as a result of shopping, and that trash does not simply vanish, but goes somewhere.

All the pictures have titles that speak volumes: “Summer Styles,” portrays a chic clothing catalogue fro children lying crumpled in the foreground, “Latest from the Wall Street Journal” shows the newspaper buried in the rubble, while “Surf in USA” and “Buy One get One Free” show waves of garbage and plastic bags.

In 2011 Pizzaroni began experimenting with white paint on black trash bags. As in past work, he is interested in the role of chance, or serendipity in the way that the paint adheres to the plastic and the marks formed. The Bianco Trash paintings nod to the white paintings of Ryman, and the gestural marks of action painting and abstract expressionism. In this sense, the paintings belie the material, and challenge the tradition of paint on canvas and “high art.”

Gallery director Yana Balson, declared to the Wall Street Journal that Pizzaroni’s work is “not a criticism of the culture. It’s more that he is bringing it to you so you can view it for yourself. He wants you to be able to smell it.” Fortunately that is just a beautiful figure of speech.

Still, after seeing all the waste he portrays it is impossible not to criticize the way we live.