Trash, garbage, rubbish, dross, and detritus - in this enjoyably radical exploration of 'Junk', Gillian Whiteley rethinks art's historical and present appropriation of junk within our eco-conscious and globalised culture. She does this through an illustrated exploration of particular materials, key moments and locations and the telling of a paply of trash narratives. Found and ephemeral materials are primarily associated with assemblage - object-based practices which emerged in the mid-1950s and culminated in the seminal exhibition 'The Art of Assemblage' in New York in 1961. With its deployment of the discarded and the filthy, Whiteley argues, assemblage has been viewed as a disruptive, transgressive artform that engaged with narratives of social and political dissent, often in the face of modernist condemnation as worthless kitsch. In the Sixties, parallel techniques flourished in Western Europe, the US and Australia but the idiom of assemblage and the re-use of found materials and objects - with artist as bricoleur - is just as prevalent w. This is a timely book that uncovers the etymology of waste and the cultures of disposability within these ecomies of wealth.
Gillian Whiteley is a curator and lecturer in Critical andHistorical Studies at Loughborough University School of the Arts. Her publications include 'Assembling the Absurd: the Sculpture of George Fullard' (1998) and the co-edited 'Telling Stories: Countering Narrative in Art, Theory and Film' (2009). Her exhibitions include 'Radical Mayhem: Welfare State International and Its Followers' (Burnley, UK, 2008) and 'Pan-demonium' (AC Institute, New York, USA, 2009), an ongoing project which forms part of her research into bricolage and improvisatory techniques and practices (www.bricolagekitchen.com). She is Associate Editor of the Intellect journal, 'Art & the Public Sphere'.