The Recycled Artist in Residency (RAIR) enables emerging, mid-career and established artists to work at the intersection of art, industry, and sustainability. Situated within Revolution Recovery, a construction and demolition waste recycling company, artists receive the opportunity to directly engage with industrial processes. The residents have access to over 450 tons of waste every day, which can be incorporated into their practice. Artists use the opportunity to develop their work whether in terms of formal sculpture and installation, film, photography, social and symbolic works, or in more activist research.
The residency provides an understanding of waste disposal systems and provides a means of sustainable material sourcing. Residents are provided with private studios and a workshop with basic wood and metal working equipment. Participants have access to Recovery Revolution’s 3.5-acre recycling site when work is not in operation and with guided assistance, artists can utilise industrial equipment, such as forklifts and excavators, within their practice. RAIR also offers stipends to residents, funded through a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
In addition to accommodating residents, the organisation hosts tours of the facility, classroom seminars, public events and exhibitions to highlight their multidisciplinary projects, merging art with industry and sustainability. Through these collaborations the potential of these materials can be broadened, facilitating members of the public to re-conceptualise their relationship with waste.
For Revolution Recovery the benefits of having the Recycled Artist in Residence programme operating within it are:
- The Artist in Residence programme contributes to the ethos of Revolution Recovery affecting staff, customers and the image of the business;
- The programme is part of the educational role of Revolution Recovery promoting sustainability and engaging local communities;
- The Artist in Residence programme makes Revolution Recovery a more colourful business and is valued by stakeholders.
Artist in residence, Lily Cox-Richard working on her project
2016 resident Lily Cox-Richard’s project, Old Copper Futures, is concerned with urban mining and reclamation in the copper industry. RAIR provided an opportunity for Richard to refine and re-frame the work by following scrap copper as it moves through the waste stream and to create a more visible form through access to a metal baler enabling her to create three 1000 lbs bales of #2 scrap copper, and then to also make large scale drawings by taking rubbings from the baled copper.
2017 resident Maria Möller used her residency to realise a project called One Last Time, a photo-based series about mortality, joy, and second chances. Developing a ritual that compares life cycles with waste cycles, Maria sourced six objects from household clean-outs and paired each one with a person in her life who is or has been close to their own mortality through age or illness. Maria worked collaboratively with each participant to stage a photo shoot during which the discarded object could fulfil its purpose ‘one last time.’ After each photo shoot, the participant travelled to the recycling centre to return their object to the waste stream.
RAIR also undertakes various special projects in relation to the residency. These have included an exhibition entitled ‘Filthy Rich: Projects Made Possible by the Waste Stream’ and a research project with social scientists entitled ‘Digging Deeper: Field Studies Made Possible by the Waste Stream’. See the links below for more information on these projects.