Here’s a simple model of human behavior: people say a lot of things and make a lot of choices and sometimes their words or actions contradict earlier words and actions, but underneath these contradictions is an internal essence. The body is continually struggling to express these innermost thoughts and desires or struggling to repress the same thoughts and desires. This vacillation between expression and repression produces the contradictions we see in everyday life. To be vulnerable is to allow the inner chamber, the “true self” to be personally accepted and publicly displayed. Thus, vulnerability is a brave action, one that is necessary before enjoying a full and vigorous life.
It’s a good story. I like it. I just don’t necessarily believe it to be true. It’s great that people want to be open and honest about themselves with other people. But feeling that you’re being open and honest doesn’t automatically indicate complete vulnerability. Self-deception is an easy game to play and the people who are best at it don’t even realize that they’re playing. So I chose to critically examine the material environments that people create and live in; this seemed more likely to lead to true vulnerability than taking pictures of people. Bodies lie. Trash doesn’t.
I’m neither John Waters nor a revolutionary Marxist. I don’t find the vulgarity of waste inherently appealing and I don’t think that the ocean of garbage in South Oakland is a mark of the imminent collapse of capitalism. I like capitalism and all the advertising and packaging that capitalism entails. My photographs are not meant to berate Pitt students for being messy slobs. Instead, I’d like to point out how often we miss things that we pretend to see. That we try and we fail, but we treat failures as triumph. That sometimes we just abandon things with no good reason. We drop our garbage carelessly and just let the wind take care of things.