Horcrux: The Curse of Trash is dedicated to the third eye chakra since climate change is the existential crisis of our time. The third eye chakra is linked to perception, awareness, wisdom, and insight, all of which we need to tackle this problem. During my weekly street cleanups, I’ve documented what I find on the street before I pick it up. A Horcrux is an object formed by dark magic used to achieve immortality by splitting a soul into separate pieces. This trash will be here long after we are gone. Plastic bags can take 1,000 years to break down; plastic bottles take 450 years, while styrofoam and tinfoil never break down because they are not biodegradable. Litter is more than just a mark on our landscape. It is costly to clean up, impacts our quality of life and economic development, and eventually ends up in our waterways and oceans. We are doing irreversible damage to our planet. We’ve been here, and we’ve been messy. We need to deal with it.
Alongside this project, I read books that harnessed themes of magic, such as Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic by Phil Hine, the Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R Tolkien, When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold and Habibi by Craig Thompson. For this piece, I’ve been exploring answers that can be found in liminal spaces such as dreams and through the magic of intention and reflection. Symbols are the language of the deep mind and dreams. I constantly swing between hope and despair during my weekly street cleanups. I get overwhelmed and wonder if I am making a difference since it piles up week after week despite my efforts. However, Chaos Magic reminds us that magic is about change. We are not helpless. We can make a difference. We must walk about the earth with purpose and reflect on our daily actions, especially regarding our carbon footprint.
Most of the time I feel like an archeologist or anthropologist when I pick up trash. My husband and I have been Block Captains and doing weekly street cleanups since 2018. We are rarely thanked and occasionally find lottery tickets and fake money on the ground. You learn a lot about a person and their culture from what they use and throw away. Their values are reflected in their actions. When archeologists study the remains of human culture, much of the evidence they have to work with is the refuse, or garbage, that individuals and groups have left behind. Nowadays, we have a problem with Stuff: we have too much of it, too much of it is toxic, and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Through my weekly street cleanups, I’ve learned more and more about Discard Studies, a young field of research that takes systems of waste as its topic of study, including but beyond conventional notions of trash and garbage. We tend to think that we are familiar with waste because we deal with it daily. Yet, most aspects of waste are entirely hidden from view and understanding, including the wider social, economic, political, cultural, and material systems that shape waste and wasting.
This piece features trash from street cleanups, voices from climate justice marches, and music from the National Theatre of Nothern Greece, composed by Kostas Vomvolos.
Directed by Joy Waldinger (USA)