Detritus That Delights Us

Is that a heap of garbage or a work of art?

| September-October 2011

  • trash-sm

    Image by Flickr user: pashasha / Creative Commons

  • trash-sm

Seen in the full light of day, many of Sue Webster and Tim Noble’s artworks appear to be heaps of trash—and that’s a literal description, not a critical commentary. But turn the lights down and project these piles’ shadows on a wall, and that’s when the magic happens: The resulting patterns reveal just how meticulously these seemingly random objects have been arranged. Many of the projections show Webster’s and Noble’s profiles as Rorschach-esque forms, playing off the imagery of perceptual psychology while also seeming to say something about consumerism, class, sex, and urban decay—but maybe that’s just all in our heads.

British Rubbish will be published in October by Skira Rizzoli. All images © Tim Noble and Sue Webster. 

cover-167-thumbHave something to say? Send a letter to This article first appeared in the September-October 2011 issue of Utne Reader.