plums for trash / slivi za smet сливи за смет/ ciruelas por basura / damaskina gia skoupidia δαμάσκηνα για σκουπίδια
Plums for Trash is a participatory work involving the exchange of unwanted objects between the general publics of New York City, Bulgaria, Mexico and Greece.
Certain objects live with us in a limbo state. It’s unthinkable to put them in the trash; to let them go without receiving something in return. Until then, they sit forgotten, or worse, lurk as reminders.
From 2011-2013, I conducted Plums for Trash: Mobile Market for International Trash Exchange, with the principle that most anything could be trash and anything could be desired. My nomadic pop-up shop was fueled by a faith that I could find homes for these objects by simply relocating them.
I set the rules and did my best to follow them. I would fill one suitcase with my own objects I no longer wanted. I would not take money in exchange for an object (retired currency was acceptable). I would not keep any objects for personal use. All exchanges must take place in person, negotiation was encouraged, but I would be the final arbiter of value.
I must move objects from one country to the next, exchanging an entire generation of objects in one place before moving to the next. I must record the exchange with a drawing. I could not accept anything larger than the suitcase.
I traded over 300 items with people of all ages, economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Believing that almost anything could be trash and anything could be desired, I found homes for objects by moving them to new contexts.
Starting in Sofia, Bulgaria as a collaboration with UCSB Anthropology Professor, Elana Resnick, Plums for Trash eventually included intersections with economists, non-profit organizations, other alternative economies and artist-run spaces around the world. The project was documented with drawings, audio recordings, and photographs.
Radio Bulgaria: “Two New Yorkers in Sofia”
Bulgarian National Radio: “Plums for Trash, from the flea markets of New York to Sofia’s Bitak,”
(weekly program on consumerism)