plums for trash


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.


Plums for Trash in Chilchota, Mexico at Galeria Perdida


Culture Hour on Bulgarian National Television (Plums for Trash is featured 30 min. into the show)

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)

Discarded Studies: Plums for Trash and the Object Ethnography Project Praxis-Based Value Networks