Is it Trash? Or is it Ikea?

Dumpster-dive decorating tips at the Muckenthalers "Recycle, Renew"

Together, Bloum and Rogenes use trash to make the invisible visible—in effect, to put trash into some sort of larger framework, to ask how we decide what trash is, exactly, and why we make so much of it, and how it fits into everything else in our lives. Leslie's on to something with his examinations of desire and utility—and "Recycle" would have done well to draw a line between trash and waste, which, as any garbage man will tell you, are two very different things—but it doesn't go far enough. There are opportunities here to include all sorts of topical issues—the origins and definitions of trash touch on sociopolitical questions from No Logo to 1001 Things You Can Do to Save the Earth—but very few artists in "Recycle" used them.

You can learn a lot about people by digging through their garbage, but "Recycle" doesn't dig very deep. Is it particularly art to make something discarded beautiful again? No—kindergarteners do it with paper plates, old macaroni and milk cartons every year, and they're still at the paste-eating stage. "Recycle" is a lesson in technique, not ideology. But that doesn't mean that trash can't be beautiful anyway.

Recycle, Renew: Art from Trash at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton, (714) 738-6595. Open Wed.-Sun., noon-4 p.m. Thru Oct. 5. $2-$5.

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