Every Trash Can Is a Self-Portrait

Trash cans are ugly. They smell. But, like our own regrets and memories, we need trash cans to collect our life moments and take them away to make room for new ones. 

Every trash can in New York City is a collective self-portrait of its people. An uncompromising depiction and reflection of the things we feel and need on the outside dictated by the things we feel and need on the inside. Every discarded beer can and crumpled shopping receipt. Every broken umbrella and dirty Q-tip. Every greasy paper bag and plastic cup that contained the food now in our stomachs. 

This trash can, with the bold splash of bright red from a hastily folded and dumped camping chair, tells the story of someone who, at some point, got tired of sitting. That ubiquitous pizza box, the common denominator of all trash in New York City, tells the story of a person, or people, who had a slice – the quintessential NYC experience, like cursing the MTA, that bonds us all together. 

[Visit more NYC Trash Stories: BathroomCultureClothesFurnitureFood/DrinksPersonalPetsTechTrash CansTravel.]

New York City art, life, and news.
Trash cans are ephemeral records of who we were during forgettable moments.

And then there is the lovely coiled blue cable, perhaps discarded by the pizza eater – or eaters – who finished an installation job and continued heading home. Also, there is that mysterious pole – drawing attention to itself like a Broadway actress – which looks like it is a long curtain rod. Or was. 

This trash can is a symphony of moments. 

If you look closely, this symphony being played out to the backdrop of a flyer advertising the services of a handyman in Hell’s Kitchen. Perhaps this is trash can is his self-portrait, or that of his crew, or the apartment they worked on – and the people who lived in it. We’ll never know. But one thing we do know for sure: It’s all in the past. This trash can self-portrait of us. 

[Visit more NYC Trash Stories: BathroomCultureClothesFurnitureFood/DrinksPersonalPetsTechTrash CansTravel.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *