Is another person’s treasure? More likely, one person’s trash is just fresh landfill fodder. However, this adage positions trash as ripe for transformation - redeemable and novel under the gaze of new eyes. It also implies an appreciation for those who are willing to work for their pleasure; sifters and sorters are rewarded for their patience and dedication to finding treasure in trash. There is an old-world tendency (in particular among those who have survived hardship) to hold onto the ephemera of everyday life, to ‘hoard’- perhaps in preparation for disaster, war, shortage, or an unexpected dinner guest. On the flip side, the trend of minimalism is pervasive among a certain subset of the upper middle class, and thus having few things and no trash is a class marker, an indicator of privilege - the privilege to transcend capitalism (or look as though you were).That commodities are now constructed in order to self-destruct after a short amount of time means that there is more trash than ever. The very real threat of climate change is linked directly to a culture of consumption that produces more trash, more waste, than the world can possibly contain. The “Trash” folder in the SVA Pictures Collection offers a glimpse into the many incarnations of trash - as mountain, home, job, evidence, art. Is it still possible to romanticize trash as possessing a latent potential for treasure?

A junkyard filled with cars crushed and piled on top of each other. The image is entitled "Mining the scrap heap for treasure"
Pieces of trash laid out as if specimens on a black background. Including: an empty plastic milk jug, old newspapers, a CD, and lots of empty food packaging.

An old woman wearing all pink poses in a pink kitchen holding a pink garbage bag.
Hundreds of plastic bags caught in a net as seen from below.

A man in a construction hat wades through millions of tires piled up in mounds.
A man with a firearm slung over his shoulder stands while people sift through piles of garbage in a dump.
A dump, a dumptruck, a swarm of seagulls.

An old woman laughs beside a car the trunk of which is so full of cans in recycling bags that the pile exceeds the frame.