The Black Rock Arts Foundation installation at Burning Man 2006, ScrapEden BRC, was an incredible success. The Scrap Shack itself looked like it was pulled off the roadside in Anywhere, Montana. The whole exhibition space, scribed by a shallow split rail fence, filled up with works by 44 contributing artists who hauled their pieces into the expansive dust of Black Rock for exhibition during the week long Burning Man Festival. Each of the pieces was created using recycled, reclaimed, repurposed or otherwise salvaged materials. Flowers built of bicycle wheels graced the entrance, an old piano, just off to the right, provided both the resonating chamber for an instrument whose strings stretched 30′ to the nearest windmill, and also kept a poorly tuned beat for impromptu performances by dancers and musicians alike. In the center stood a small tree — its deciduously metal branches cradling a flaming bird’s nest by night. Champagne cork spiders crawled though tin can flowers, starched garden gloves mimicked one bush’s sprouting leaves, a giant onion proved a soft-safe-haven for the playa-weary.
The idea for ScrapEden came to us when the Foundation was approached by the San Francisco Department of the Environment to apply for a grant; the DOE was soliciting proposals for projects and initiatives that would substantially change the behavior of SF residents around curbside comporting and recycling. As an arts organization we were a bit befuddled about how we were going to divert significant numbers of tonnage from the waste stream, but we put our heads to the white board, and after much pounding, slowly, the ScrapEden concept was born. We decided to use art as the vehicle to talk about, and ascribe value to, what is otherwise considered trash. We decided to create a program designed around collaborative artworks created from reclaimed materials as a means of talking to people about what they’re throwing into the rubbish bin, lanfill, bay, ocean, water table, etc.
We did it first in Black Rock City, stay tuned to find out what we’re doing in San Francisco….