The Wasteland

Andrea Kastner has been fascinated by garbage for years.

The Montreal native, who now makes her home in Hamilton, Ontario became interested in waste while thinking about how we, as a society, relate to our possessions.

“ We take things with us, ignore that we own them, then throw them out,” she says.

“ It’s a world of duality — we live in one world, while the other is shadowed, ignored, and not acknowledged.”

Kastner’s garbage idea has taken many forms. She started by digging through bags of household waste, then making a list of the contents.

“ It was very interesting,” says Kastner. “People throw out weird stuff.”

Each bag of garbage, she says, became a portrait of the person who threw it out.

“ I realized that a lot of people’s lives end up in the garbage.”

She feels that even though a landfill is teeming with people’s stuff, they choose to disavow it.

Which is why, says Kastner, her latest project argues that people should agree waste exists and refrain from ignoring it.

“ You can’t help but act differently once you acknowledge the problem,” she says. “My role here is being an artist — I’m bringing all this to life.”

The Wasteland is a series of paintings that toured Kamloops, Montreal, Hamilton, Courtenay, and is in Dawson City until December 6, 2014, for its final stop.

The imagery for The Wasteland was gathered by traveling to landfills, searching through archives, digging through bags of household garbage, and documenting the alleyways of the cities that Kastner has lived in.

These images were then put together as a collage. By doing this, Kastner says she reintegrates them and makes them into something else, bringing them back to life.

“By taking different images and making them into one, I’ve unified them again.”

While in Dawson, Kastner is looking forward to visiting the local landfill.

“Dawson seems to have a different relationship to the landfill,” she says, referring to how Dawsonites have free access to the dump and often re-use some of its contents.

Kastner says her work may gross people out, but they still can’t help but be interested.

“People interpret this art in a weird way — they know what they’re doing with their stuff but don’t necessarily want to acknowledge it. But if I’m careful and attentive, it can be made interesting and people don’t mind looking.”

Kastner admits it’s depressing if we look at all this waste in a negative way, but it makes her curious about people and how they live.

“The amount of garbage can be overwhelming and alarming — when we feel like that, art works through it and figures it out,” she says.

The Wasteland will be in the ODD Gallery until December 6, 2014. The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m.

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