File this under “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this first, how do I rip it off?” In the tradition of turning cat hair into jewelry and other sustainable craft ventures, New York artist Justin Gignac has introduced the ultimate recycled craft: garbage. Customers can purchase a transparent, sealed cube of bona fide New York garbage — labeled, naturally as sculpture. While he started selling them streetside for $10 nearly a decade ago, they now go for five to ten times as much and ship all around the world.
It started out as a bet with a friend at an ad agency that packaging made all the difference in selling a product. It might seem to embody the worst of conspicuous consumerism, but there is an appeal to being able to have a snapshot of a culture’s castaway, better than any time capsule. Gignac’s more expensive cubes include garbage from President Obama’s inauguration (he deals in some outside trash) and the Yankees’ ticker-tape parade.
His website doesn’t go into much detail about how he actually hand-collects his art, but the cubes seem to contain an odorless, curated collection. Maybe the next step is to send every New Yorker a plastic cube to fill on their own, which is kind of like how those Cash for Gold shops work. I, for one, can pay rent for a month just cleaning the floor of my bedroom, if the rest of the world is buying.
Follow Eric: @primesilver.