The Dawson City Trash Project

The Dawson City Trash Project, 2008
Mixed media, trash
ODD Gallery, KIAC, Dawson City, YK

The Dawson City Trash Project is a miniature diorama of the current and historical garbage sites in Dawson City, Yukon. All of the raw materials used to create the miniatures are scavenged from these dump sites, and because visitors to the gallery had technically provided the materials for the exhibit, every piece of the installation was free to take away. The project enacts a landfill that erodes into people’s personal spaces as opposed to the usual circulation of garbage away from people and into landfills.

Yet people were generous with how they took pieces so that the exhibit would not be diminished for others. People only allowed themselves (and occasionally told others) that they could only take one piece. Some people took the plentiful, not-very-artistic trees instead of more unique pieces that looked like art objects. Some people waited until the show was complete before they took anything. When taken together, these interactions create social economies that exhibit different characteristics than those of our everyday market-driven capitalist economies. They show that people are not inherently greedy, self-maximizing, or selfish, but generous, creative, and even daring in their relationship to each other and to trash.


This project was made possible by the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, The Dean’s Grant for Student Research through the Steinhardt School at New York University, the KIAC Artist-in-Residence program, the ODD Gallery, and participants in Dawson City.

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